The Chalice Project (Island Fiction) by Lisa Allen-Agostini

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The Chalice Project (Island Fiction) by Lisa Allen-Agostini

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: An interesting and fast paced adventure story about twins trying to discover a family secret, but then wondering whether they really wanted to know the truth when it emerges.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 191 Date: October 2008
Publisher: Macmillan Caribbean
ISBN: 978-1405098991

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This book is what you might get if you crossed magical powers reminiscent of Heroes or Harry Potter with the sort of time travelling mice you might have seen in Season 4 of Lost. While some of the specific ideas in this book might not be 100% original, they are combined in a new and readable way to create an interesting and current science-fiction story about the relative merits and dangers of genetic engineering.

Ada and Evan's names are the only thing loosely based on the Bible, unless I missed the part of Genesis where two rather cheerful twins on a Caribbean island discover their scientist father has some dark secrets in his past. It's an exciting story but isn't confused by excessive twists and turns, and is an easy read, with some nice characters. It gives a good flavour of Caribbean life as seen through the eyes of the twins, and intentionally or unintentionally, it's hard to keep track of which characters are black and which white in their very integrated society. The brother/sister roles are also nicely featured, because while both twins have their own characters (being different people after all) we don't have a nice strong boy and a wimpish little girl tagging along behind, nor vice versa.

That's not to say the book is without its faults. The twins play rugby in the book and the overly lengthy descriptions of their training sessions and games would appeal only to those who didn't skip through the equivalent depictions of Quidditch in Harry Potter. The science throughout the book is questionable, though considering its target reader age, this may not be too massive an issue. The somewhat cavalier attitude towards experiments on animals is also surprising, as there's only one short mention of it being perhaps not a very nice thing.

The ending smacks of an A Level English student who has just realised her time is up: it ends abruptly, illogically and extremely unsatisfactorily. It's the sort of ending I'd only be happy with had it been the start of a series of books, so the story could continue. However, though this book is in the Island Fiction series, the books are all penned by different authors and feature different characters and different adventures, and none relate back to the others so the chances of a follow up are slim.

Criticisms aside, I enjoyed this book considerably more than my previous journey into this series, simply because I thought it was better written and had a more intriguing topic. It has wide-ranging appeal, from those who like their tales about sports to those who prefer school stories or a juicy bit of science, and is quite topical given the ongoing debate about the ethics of designer babies and trying to outsmart Mother Nature.

Thanks go to the publishers for sending The Bookbag this title.

The Time Traveler's Wife is a good choice for older readers interested in this topic, while if you prefer the genetic engineering side, consider Blood Ties.

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Buy The Chalice Project (Island Fiction) by Lisa Allen-Agostini at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Chalice Project (Island Fiction) by Lisa Allen-Agostini at


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