X-isle by Steve Augarde
|X-isle by Steve Augarde
|Reviewer: John Lloyd
|Summary: A brilliantly realised flooded world, and a great saga involving the youngsters trapped in it. Perhaps a touch slow to get started but well worth the investment.
|Date: October 2009
|Publisher: David Fickling Books
It was a momentous day when the salvage ship sailed up Baz's street. This is a future England, where an eco-catastrophe has drowned the world, and left just pockets of humanity, with no power, no Internet, little hope. But this is a momentous day, not because of the boat travelling across Baz's town, not because this is the only powered vehicle anyone knows of, but because today is the day Baz and his best-friend-to-be Ray manage to barter their way on board, and across to a different island, and a land of milk and honey.
Of course, said land is not ideal. They expect a factory of great prosperity, where the workers get three square meals a day, comfort, and security. What they find are a handful of colleagues, and a virtual concentration camp, run by the Eck family, whose job it is to loot tinned food and other salvaged goods from sunken superstores.
This comes as no surprise to the reader, but there are still no end of intrigues and surprises to come. There are questions surrounding some of the children on the island, such as Taps, and bigger ones regarding just how far the Eck family boss, hell and brimstone fan Preacher John, will go.
This is a teen read of impeccable depth. The world has been fully realised, and the company of Baz is most welcome for seeing the ordeal everyone is in. While the language is pitched ideally for a 12-16 year old bracket, the book is quite a dark one at times. Nothing is gory or too graphic, but there are deaths, misery, sewage-based revenges, and more. It's not a very cheery book.
In fact I did take some time to get into it. At first it just seemed to be a retread of Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick, but things soon diversified. I sought a bit more sprightliness, before realising that would be counter-productive. And by the end I was most impressed by this author. He has put so much into this world, and as an adult reader I was aware, and waiting for everything to become relevant, and it often did in unexpected ways. There are several instances of him leaving something unsaid for hundreds of pages, then to give us the answer, and never patronise us with a flashback. Ray's mother is just one instance.
It's always up to us to put the pieces together. And that wouldn't work if things were not so memorable from beginning to end. The style is a great, cinematic one, with practically everything clear to the reader, and the plot and mood is brilliantly sustained. This is a title I hold in high regard, and while I have not read any of his other titles, such as Winter Wood, I can say with the highest recommendation that this book will go down exceedingly well with the target audience. It feels more than a little masculine at times, but young ladies - if your brother passes this on to you, you should not hesitate to snap it up.
I can see a flood of awards for X-Isle, and must thank the kind David Fickling Books people for my review copy.
You can read more book reviews or buy X-isle by Steve Augarde 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 X-isle by Steve Augarde at Amazon.com.
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