Troubletwisters: The Monster by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

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Troubletwisters: The Monster by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: In theory the town of Portland is protected, but the two young troubletwisters are worried nonetheless: Grandma X seems to be ignoring all the signs of danger. Once again they must struggle against evil and use their powers in order to save their friends and their town.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 314 Date: June 2012
Publisher: Egmont
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781405258630

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This book really should be required reading for anyone charged with bringing up children with magical powers — especially if they've already saved the world a time or two. In a nutshell, it shows what happens when you answer all the said young people's questions with some vague promise to explain everything when the time is right. As if that's going to satisfy them.

Jack and Jaide fall into the superpowers category. They will, one day, become members of a secret international order called the Wardens, a group dedicated to fighting a creature known only as The Evil. They've already had one encounter with him, in the first book in this enjoyable series, where it manifested itself in truly horrible ways including beasts made up of hordes of insects and rats (yet another book not to be read just before a meal).

Things aren't going to be easy this time, either. The twins are called troubletwisters for a reason: they have only just discovered their Gifts and even on a good day they are barely in control of them. As their grandma points out, they have the potential to use their abilities to do great good — or blow the world up. In fact, in book one they did accidentally cause an explosion which destroyed their own home, which is why they're staying with their enigmatic grandmother. She, with the help of a couple of cat familiars, is in charge of educating them in the ways of the Wardens. It's not an easy task, though: Jack and Jaide are in many ways ordinary children, with schoolwork and friends, and a healthy curiosity. They will not be fobbed off by vague words, and they are perfectly willing to take things into their own hands if they see danger threatening. And they are right, in a way: The Evil is still around, but not in the way they think, and a happy outcome is in question here more than once.

Books for young people sometimes represent evil and danger in over-simplified ways. The hulking monster, the slimy beast are obvious expressions of the bad guy, and they abound in glorious, disgusting technicolour in this series. Things that slither, things that crunch — a guarantee of delicious shivers of horror. But that's not all that's on offer here, because a sneakier, more insidious peril threatens the twins. The real problem, the thing that will lead them to success or disaster is their own selves: their personalities, their confidence in themselves and those who are training them. That subtle voice in your head that tells you that you can't succeed, that makes you wonder if it's even worth all the effort — that's the true danger, and that we see it here is a sign that this book is far more than merely another bash-the-monster fest, but a book about real, solid children with depth and character.

This is not a solemn or gloomy book, though. There may be problems, but there's plenty of action and battles too, and also some really delightful parts too. These are often provided by the cats which, true to their natures, don't hold back on expressing their opinions, and there's one scene on a train which may have you viewing the humble (as if!) moggy in quite a different light, not to mention the hazards involved in using public transport. It's fun, it's lively, and it's a bit scary — in a word, enjoyable.

You could quite happily read this book without the (first in the series), but it's a good story. And for another young hero up against deadly evil that's out of this world, try Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow by James Rollins and the second in the series, Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx. You might also enjoy Troubletwisters: The Monster by Garth Nix and Sean Williams.

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