The Dark Wild by Piers Torday
|The Dark Wild by Piers Torday|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Kester has saved the animals, but his task is not yet over – not by a long way. There are other animals deep underground who plan to destroy the human world and return it to nature. Our hero will need all his strength and courage if he is to find a way to stop them before it's too late.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 342||Date: March 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
Winner: Guardian Children's Fiction Award 2014
Be careful when reading this book: it presents humanity and its tendency to destroy everything in its path so convincingly that you may end up siding with the bad guys! Kester's world is a dystopian mess, and the fact that this time the threat comes from a quite unexpected quarter only makes things harder for him.
Dark is the right word for some parts of this story. In one particularly vivid scene Kester is led, in near-total darkness, through tunnels so narrow he runs the risk of being trapped forever – not an easy read. And there's darkness, too, in poor Kester's heart, as he almost despairs at the task he faces. He's done what he set out to do in the first book, and now all he wants is a little time to recover and enjoy the new family he has created for himself. But he's hardly drawn breath before another threat arises, and his weariness and sense of helplessness increase until he wonders if he can go on any longer. He is, after all, only twelve as the book opens – hardly a good age to have the fate of the whole world on your shoulders.
The earth is almost barren, with most of the animals lost to the red-eye virus and the majority of the remaining humans living on an island in four glass towers. They exist on a disgusting pink gloop that always tastes of prawn cocktail crisps, utterly under the control of a company called Factorium - and now the food is running out. More urgent still, animals which have been ill-treated in the past are determined to seize their chance to rid the world of the threat: kill people, restore the Earth to nature and let animals run free. It's a tempting option, particularly when we learn of some of the terrible things humans have done, and continue to do, to the natural world and each other.
But this isn't a gloomy, depressing sort of book by any means. The author is absolutely honest about the effects on the planet, and on our hero, of the actions of greedy, powerful people, but the lasting impression is one of hope. Kester is an ordinary boy, with whom the reader will easily be able to identify. That being so, the way he deals with his gift of being able to communicate with animals makes him far more deserving of the word heroic than many a wand- or sword-waving main character. And there's a lot of gentle comedy here, too: once again we meet the mouse which has a dance for every situation, the boastful wolf-cub and the war-like cockroach. New to this book is a very funny bird whose enthusiasm drives its companions crazy, and a new friend who never hesitates to speak her mind.
This book will certainly entertain its readers. It will also give them a far deeper understanding of the world, by showing it from a different perspective, and leave them with many questions to ponder and discuss. And that sounds like a definition of a good read!
There's enough information in this book for you to work out what went before, but it will have more impact if you start with The Last Wild. Besides, it's been shortlisted for several awards, so it's a book well worth reading. And if you want something a little lighter, try Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door by Ross Montgomery: still about bad humans and wise animals, but with lots of laughs.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dark Wild by Piers Torday at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Dark Wild by Piers Torday at Amazon.com.
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