|The Bad Tuesdays 2: Strange Energy by Benjamin J Myers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A wonderful second novel in this magical and dystopian fantasy. The themes and characters develop fully and the narrative is tense and pacey. It's both challenging and exciting, and it's highly recommended by Bookbag. Benjamin J Myers was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: June 2009|
Splinter's attempt to keep the Tuesdays out of the Committee's clutches and away from fighting the Twisted Symmetry doesn't last long. Unable to avoid an obvious pickpocketing opportunity and a subsequent trip to a mysterious bank vault, the street children are soon back with Ethel and her pals, and it's not much longer before they are sucked up by the Fat Gobster and transported to another world.
Their mission? To spy on the Twisted Symmetry and find out what exactly they are doing with hundreds of kidnapped children. If I were to mention screaming rooms, you'd gather what they are doing isn't very nice. Of course, Ethel's seen all this before, in many permutations. Chess, Splinter and Box can only hope that this is one of the better ones. The Twisted Symmetry and their Dog Troops aren't the only inhabitants of this new world though; there's Balthazar, who knows more than is good for him about what is going on, and an entire race of telepathic - and very warlike - lizards.
And so the Bad Tuesdays' story continues, and I absolutely loved it. In fact, I thought this second volume was even better than the first. It's as pacy and exciting, but now the scene has been set, we can enjoy the high-octane adventure even more. These books are relatively easy to read, but thematically complicated.
Firstly, there is the time and dimension-busting element, which, as a science-phobe, I struggle with usually, but not here. Then of course, there's the moral ambiguity. We are clear that the Twisted Symmetry are bad, but how good are the Committee, really? To what extent does the end justify the means when we are fighting evil? Then there's the relationships between the Tuesdays themselves. Chess is the real heroine; initially reluctant, but always ready to sacrifice when the stakes are high. Splinter reminds me of Edmund from the Narnia books. He has a chip on his shoulder the size of Harry Ramsden's empire, and you can't really blame him. He is the victim of a post-industrial dystopia in which social inequality is cruel and remorseless. But you just know he's going to turn his negativity onto Chess and you watch his jealousy with absolute foreboding.
It's super stuff - dark, dangerous, exciting and wonderfully-realised. It's full of three-dimensional characters and vivid worlds and complicated ideas, but it has an intimate emotional landscape young readers with which young readers can clearly identify. It asks a lot of questions and it gives them pause for thought. Keen readers of ten and up could approach it with confidence, but it's mature and deep enough for adolescents. Highly recommended.
My thanks to the nice people at Orion for sending the book.
The classic blend of science, magic and time comes in A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'Engle. Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson has a more quirky, less industrial feel, but covers similar ground. Jigsaw by Garry Kilworth puts an environmental slant on things.
Benjamin J Myers was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Bad Tuesdays 2: Strange Energy by Benjamin J Myers at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Bad Tuesdays 2: Strange Energy by Benjamin J Myers at Amazon.com.
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