Friday, August 29, 2014

Reading, More Reading!

A trip to Melbourne and a disposition that means I must be at the airport hours before required has allowed me to make some serious inroads in my (very large!) reading pile.

Also I am trying to watch less TV in the evenings - not none just less.

As I am a fast reader (I think) this allows me to plow through a lot of books, you can expect rather a few reviews in the next wee while.

Speed of Light by Joy Cowley.

This was a return trip home read. The lovely people at Gecko sent this to my NZ address and my mama passed it on via my girls weekend friends! I almost read the whole thing on my 1 hour journey home (another reason to love teen fiction!). I was keen to read it having enjoyed Dunger - which won the NZ Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults 2014, Junior Fiction category.

I like Joy Cowley. I like that she sets her books in NZ settings that are so familiar to me. This one is set in Wellington and the descriptions are perfect.

The story centres around a family crumbling at the edges and Jeff the youngest son and number lover. Having a number lover myself I do like a character who finds a sense of interest and order in the world of numbers (even though I don't myself). Jeff is a character to like - he struggles with mystery and uncertainty and he longs to hold the crumbling pieces together. Cowley perfectly captures the longing of a child to love parents that are not that loveable and to hold onto hope for a family that is far from it.

The story is slightly supernatural but told in a natural way - if that makes sense. So natural it feels wrong to call it fantasy. I guess the reader will make their own call on that - it will probably be influenced by your own view on spiritual things.

The story reads well, the characters, their pain and their disappointments are convincing. It has a mystery that drives the narrative. The book is both tragic and hopeful and I think it will be one many readers would be able to associate with. Gecko recommends it for 12+ and I would agree though a mature reader of 10 or 11 may well still get a lot from it. It's the kind of book that could be used for great book discussions with older readers.

I like Joy Cowley's style of writing, it tells a story, it captures images but it does it in a 'plain' way. I can see my boys really finding her a readable choice as they grow up.

I also love the cover design. It would be a piece of art I'd be happy to have on my walls. Design by Keely O'Shannessy.

Details: Gecko Press, August 2014 RRP $19.99 NZ, teaching notes are available too.