Rise of the Rattler by Tim Walker
|Rise of the Rattler by Tim Walker|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A quest for magical liquid in the Arctic - and the nasty fellow that might be controlling things - is satisfactory, but very awkwardly done if, like me, you haven't read what's gone on immediately before.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 256||Date: May 2009|
|Publisher: Faber Children's Books|
Following from their last adventure, the crew of the good country pile known as Shipley Manor arrive back home, to find the world changed. Everyone is divided as to whether they were there on Fizzle Friday or not, and the Grand Fizzler is creating a living nightmare for those that, due to circumstance, were not there on the day the loving, magical cola-style liquid rained down. Meanwhile, a search to find another source of Fizzle leads someone to danger and daring - if not the isolation they expected - in the Arctic.
It is a pity that this book is nearly as divisive as the Grand Fizzler, for it was a struggle and a half to get into, even with the advantage of having read the first in the series. There is always something to be said when closing a trilogy to just get on with it and ignore the stragglers, but I for one - once the book reviewing gods had deemed me not worthy of the middle volume - was lost.
Still, once slowly getting into the swing of things, as the Captain shaves off his comedy beard and takes his floating paddle-steamer mansion to the Arctic to rescue Scarlett the aviator, there is enough of a book to satisfy the returning fan of the series. Newcomers will be further baffled by action scenes taking place in someone's mind - is this really putting our young hero and heroine, Tom and Polly, in any danger? How much more confusion can we expect, when the bad guy there is not who we thought - or is he? Will the book survive obvious His Dark Materials comparisons when the polar bears arrive?
Well there is little chance of this being deemed a recycling of old hat, for the series covers a lot of unusual details (not just the titular house) that shows a singular mind behind all this. There are something like nanobots, life lessons through fizzy liquid, fascistic baddies in a parallel to Nazism, and towards the end - as in the first book - a full-on, no-holds barred action sequence, that is nearly worth the price of admission alone.
It's just that all that oddity does not come across as I, for one, would like. It's not the most coherent adventure trilogy ever, let's put it like that. But for those who like their mental agility tested as much as the physical agility of the cast they're reading about, this set of books will be a fresh entertainment, if not the best they could be turning to.
On the whole the series is worth investigation, but this book is not a stand-alone read - take chunks out of its Bookbag rating if you come new to Tim Walker at this last juncture.
I must thank the Faber and Faber people for our review copy.
You can read more book reviews or buy Rise of the Rattler by Tim Walker at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Rise of the Rattler by Tim Walker at Amazon.com.
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