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Keyword: ‘Into the River’

The beginner’s Guide to Living by Lia Hills

The Beginner’s Guide to Living by Lia Hills. Pub. Text Publishing, 2009

This book is deep. I wasn’t expecting anything like this but boy am I glad I read it. This is a finalist in the NZ Post Book Awards and deservedly so but it is for a limited audience of those that are sensitive and think deeply about life and death.

It is essentially the story of 17 year old Will who is grieving over his mother’s death. Anna has been runover by a drunk driver in a red Honda and Will is in turmoil. He seeks answers in philosophy and reads from Nietzsche, Buddha, William Blake, the Doors, John Paul Sartre , Annais Nin and a number of others.

Does it do him any good? It would be nice to explain things in a few words but you can’t. You take what is given and deal with it.

Will is a sensitive boy but finds love in the person of Taryn, a 16 year old with plenty of depth herself. She helps him and herself as well, and their relationship is one of the highlights of the book.

Lia Hills must have boys because she shows great knowledge in her presentation of Will and her creation is very believable but with a greater depth than most boys reveal to anybody. I liked that.

The book is divided into four parts perhaps showing Will going through the steps of grieving from denial through anger to acceptance.

Definitely Senior Secondary in appeal or to anyone who likes to contemplate the meaning of life and death.

The Eyeball Collector by F.E. Higgins

January 22, 2010 Leave a comment

The Eyeball Collector by F E Higgins. Pub.MacMillan Children’s Books, 2009

I basically picked this book up because the title intrigued me and because Eoin Colfer, the Artemis Fowl author, said it “grabs at the reader with hooked talons”. He was right.

Set in the fearsome city of Urbs Umida, a city divided into the well off north and the desperate south by the toxic river Foedus. This is the story of revenge, a story of good verses evil, and a very depraved evil it is too. Some of the descriptions and scenes in this story will both disgust and have you reaching for superlatives at the same time.

The hero of the story is Hector who lives in the well to do north of Urbs Umida. His father is swindled and blackmailed to death by the villainous Gulliver Truepin a one-eyed shister off the top shelf. After his father’s death, Hector  is discarded onto the streets of south Urbs Umida  into a place for strays, swearing revenge, and where survival is his only thought.

As Hector’s star falls, Truepin’s star  rises and pretty soon he emerges as Baron Bovrik de Vandolin living in a swanky castle with the depraved Lady Mandible. She engages Hector, in a bizaare turn of events, to assist in a display at the Midwinter Feast.

The action all comes to a head at the Midwinter Feast and a satisfactory conclusion is achieved.

Written in an easy style that begs the reader to come in and keeps the plot moving at a rate that will keep the reader guessing. F.E. Higgins is a new writer to me but boy he has appeal and I will seek out his two previous titles The Black Book of Magic and The Bone magician.

This book is for good readers of fantasy from Intermediate to Secondary but be warned there are some macabre scenes in the book.