Oksa Pollock: The Last Hope by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf

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Oksa Pollock: The Last Hope by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: In the first of a series of six books we meet Oksa, an ordinary girl who discovers she has supernatural powers. Her family was forced to leave their idyllic hidden world half a century ago, and she is the key to their return. But there are people determined to stop her at any price.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 526 Date: June 2013
Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781782690009

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Oksa is a French girl whose family has just moved to London to open a restaurant with the parents of her best friend Gus. She is a determined (some might say headstrong) and energetic thirteen-year-old whose lively imagination often leads her to see herself as a ninja warrior. But the truth is far more astonishing. She and her family come from a magical hidden land called Edefia, and she is soon to discover that she has a unique and terrifying destiny, one which will put her and everyone she holds dear in serious danger.

As Oksa joins a French school in London for the new term, strange things begin to happen. She experiences bizarre, violent reactions to a couple of people, and she develops frightening powers she cannot control. When she at last confides in her grandmother, she learns that the odd-shaped bruise on her stomach proves she is the new ruler of Edefia, and that it is her destiny to lead those who fled the land many years before back to their home. But not everyone wants her there. A vicious enemy has wormed his way into her life and intends to use her abilities to gain power for himself. If Oksa does not survive, it is not just Edefia which will suffer: the whole planet is at risk.

The situation will be familiar to all keen readers of fantasy. A single person has the ability to save the day, but strong forces oppose him or her. The themes are vast, the stakes are high, and dangerous situations abound, leading to heart-stopping exploits, adventures and escapes. That being said, this is an original book in many ways. A multitude of delightful creatures and plants left Edefia with the Runaways, and they are definitely one of the major attractions of the book. They include plants which squabble and faint, tiny hens that wear woolly jackets and complain constantly of the cold, and best of all, the charming Lunatrixes who serve the family of the Gracious. These funny, wise creatures delight in filling their sentences with vocabulary they have not really understood, which manages to lighten the most frightening situations. In fact the book's website is well worth a visit, if only to see drawings and descriptions of all these creatures. Another unusual aspect is the fact that the heroine is surrounded by her family and friends, who love her deeply and devote themselves to training her for her destiny. Surprisingly, the question of what will happen to the non-Edefian members of her close circle if the Runaways return home is never raised, even by Gus.

This series is popular in many countries, and has been translated in several languages. Sadly, it is here that the book shows its greatest weakness. Translation is a difficult thing to do at the best of times: the ornate phrasing of one language, heavily loaded with adverbs and adjectives, may sit uncomfortably when rendered closely into a tradition where the mood of a scene is more often shown by what people say and do. And the challenge here is even harder: to take young teen language from one culture and transpose it into the somewhat different speech and idioms of another. Unfortunately the result here is a mish-mash of formal, wordy sentences interspersed with a variety of slang expressions which range from fairly up-to-date words to things no self-respecting young English-speaker would use these days. Gosh and off your rocker bump uncomfortably up against totally OTT and for sure, not to mention the assertion from a Year Eight boy that maths is pretty much his forte. The contrasts push the reader out of the story, and make even the most attractive characters seem artificial.

Despite this complaint the story is sufficiently original to merit reading, and readers who are willing to ignore the awkwardness of the language will soon find themselves immersed in a series of gripping adventures.

Another young girl who finds she is to be a queen can be found in the excellent City of Thieves by Ellen Renner, and a girl with unusual talents who has to battle original and terrifying villains will be encountered in the seriously spooky Lockwood and Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud.

Buy Oksa Pollock: The Last Hope by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Oksa Pollock: The Last Hope by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Oksa Pollock: The Last Hope by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Oksa Pollock: The Last Hope by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf at Amazon.com.


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