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Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Arc of the Scythe bk3: The Toll by Neal Shusterman.

December 9, 2019 Comments off

The TollArc of the Scythe bk3: The Toll by Neal Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

The third and final book in this trilogy and the big question is “what will become of the world of Scythes, Tonists and Thunderhead after the sinking of the Scythe Headquarters Endura”?

In a nutshell it is knackered. Chaos reigns. Everything is changing.

Firstly Scythedom is divided and Robert Goddard is now self declared Highblade of the Scythes and is determined to unite Scythes and increase their power over both the Thunderhead and the Tonists. Gleaning or killing is increased to alarming proportions and the fairness and equity of the gleaning is now targeted racism. Highblade Goddard blames Rowan or Scythe Lucifer for the destruction of Endura although Rowan and Citra or Scythe Anastasia died together in the sinking of Endura. In this World in which mortality has been conquered does anybody really die permanently?

Secondly Thunderhead, that AI entity that can process 2 billion actions per second, has withdrawn from the World. Everybody is declared “unsavory” and no longer has direct contact with Thunderhead. Day to day operations are still handled by Thunderhead but personal access has ended. The question is does Thunderhead have a plan for humanity or is it going to be left to destroy itself?

Thirdly the Tonists that wacko group of religious followers of the Tone have a living leader, The Toll who is a character you know from the previous two books and he is the only person that Thunderhead will talk directly to. Some Tonists have turned radical or Sibilant and Anarchy reigns as the Tonists search for their identity in this new World.

Fourthly, Scythe Faraday and his assistant in the last book detected a blind spot for Thunderhead in the South Pacific and they go searching, crash land on an island to make some interesting discoveries.

The action is non stop as each of the player groups reacts to the actions of the other. Has Thunderhead given up on humanity? Will the Scythes under Goddard glean humans out of existence? Do the Tonists have the answers? What of Anastasia, Lucifer and Faraday? Is the South Pacific the answer to their problems?

Stunning writing from Shusterman with an ending that will have you gasping. The best series since Hunger Games and will appeal to a similar audience. An interesting angle is added to this series with the character of Jericho and the personalisation of Thunderhead in human form. Can a machine ever understand humans?

Wonderful stuff, I am still buzzing over it.

 

The Book of Dust. vol 2. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman.

October 27, 2019 Comments off

DustThe Book of Dust. vol 2. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

This is a superb novel for lovers of fantasy, of philosophy, of mystery, of adventure and those interested in the meaning and origin of life.

It has been ten years since Lyra returned from the land of the dead in The Subtle Knife from the His Dark Materials series. She is 20 and is in a melancholic disposition because she and her daemon Pan have fallen out and there is no trust between them. They are capable of traveling apart from each other and do so regularly. This was once thought impossible but their parting is an essential ingredient in this story. Read it and find out why.

Lyra still uses that mysterious instrument, the alethiometer, to find out information and has started to use a new and radical way of manipulating it. The bankruptcy of her friend’s father who is in the rose trade is a warning of major trouble and the murder of a botanist Rodderick Hassall has the world in an uproar.

Hassall has just returned from the desert of Karamakan in Central Asia where a certain rose can only be grown whose oil has been contaminated with that magical particle Dust from which all life emanates. How? The origin of this rose oil is a building in the middle of the desert that can be entered only by those who can separate from their daemons.

Where has Pan gone? Can he really believe that someone has stolen Lyra’s imagination?

I will leave it at that. Find out for yourself in this novel of nearly 700 pages that is totally compelling. I read it over 6 days reading and savouring about 150 pages per day. It is outstanding and even the deepest philosophical points are made easy to read.

The real skill of the author is to organise the plot so that the connections between the host of characters is made apparent, otherwise it could be confusing.

If you miss this you will kick yourself. Lyra Silvertongue is not only growing up and learns much about herself, she is on the run again in the land of fairies and ghosts, the secret commonwealth.

 

My Lovely Frankie by Judith Clarke.

June 26, 2017 Comments off

lovely frankieMy Lovely Frankie by Judith Clarke. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017.

When 15 year old Tom told his parents he wanted to go to St Finbar’s seminary to train as a priest his father smashed his fist into the wall and his mother sobbed in the kitchen “You will never have a normal life and a family” his father pleaded but Tom said “I have you”.

This stunning opening begins one of the most riveting novels I have read for seniors and young adults, but it will not be everyone’s taste.

Tom tells this 1950’s story looking back as an old man and reflecting with his cousin Miri.  Tom wants to know what happened to Frankie and you will want to know too.

Frankie is of course the star and when Tom meets him after 4 days in St Finbar’s an electric shock surges through his body which he doesn’t understand. Tom is naive about attraction and love and only later discovers how he feels.

This novel is about love in whatever shape or form it takes from parental love to the love of God and the sexual love of another person. Frankie knows where he stands, he loves kindness, caring and of course girls. Frankie is open with Tom about his feelings for girls and treasures their friendship but Tom has deeper feelings and wonders why he resents how Frankie feels towards girls. Will Frankie ever find out?

The novel is littered with some stunning characters like the teachers and the Rector of St Finbar’s  and the head prefect Etta who turn the school into a ministry of fear. When told he must change for God, Frankie ponders why he should change when God created man in his own image already?

One of my best books for this year it is beautifully written and perfectly paced. I dare you to read it. The conclusion is stunning.

The Monster Billy Dean by David Almond

December 30, 2011 Comments off

The Monster Billy Dean by David Almond. Pub. Penguin Group, Puffin Books, 2011.

This is undoubtedly the most original book of the year but for many it will be beyond their interests and too difficult to get into. Not for me though I have enjoyed every one of David Almond’s books no matter how dark and sinister they appear to be.

Billy Dean was born the day terrorists with car bombs and suicide bombers blew the guts out of the town of Blinkbonny. Thirteen years later the town is still in ruins and into this world comes Billy Dean after being locked away from everybody for the whole of his life.

Billy Dean is the product of a great crime. His young mother was seduced by a priest and is brought up by his mother secluded from the world. His father Wilfred is an out and out religious lunatic and his influence on Billy when he visits is deeply disturbing. The absent father is a frequent theme in David Almond’s novels.

When the father leaves for ever, Billy is released into a world that views him as an angel, as a mystic, as a faith healer as a messiah. Billy doesn’t know any better and understands nothing of what is going on. I will leave it to you to decipher the ending and the role that Billy assumes. It is a mystery and in parts disturbing.

To add to the mystery the novel is written in a geordie accent in words that are written as they sound, phonics, I think it is called. Perhaps it is the way language is going, I like it better than text language. It takes a bit of getting used to but you do. You couldn’t get the Geordie accent across any other way.

Definitely senior secondary.  For me it was compelling reading.

Blood of the Lamb: The Crossing by Mandy Hager

Blood of the Lamb: The Crossing by Mandy Hager. Pub. Random House, 2009

Writing a novel about a post apocalyptic world is not a new theme for a New Zealand novelist of teenage fiction. Fleur Beale’s Juno of Tanis , Bernard Beckett’s Genesis and Anna MacKenzie’s Sea-Wrecked Stranger, come to mind in recent times.

This finalist for the NZ Post Book Awards is quite different. It is set in the Pacific Islands a place where the church and the word of the Minister of the Church are all powerful.

Maryam is a young girl of 15 years who has not yet reached puberty and is as trusting and innocent as you can get.  Mandy Hager  puts her in a position where everything she has held as true, is now seen as being sinister, all her beliefs are shattered, and her view of the world completely overturned. How will she cope?

The rulers of this island paradise have perverted the teachings of the bible to form a Blood of the Lamb religion in which all girls upon reaching puberty are sent to the Holy City to serve the Lord. Oh what a shock they have in store!

The Holy City is a cruise ship that has been anchored outside the reef after The Tribulation  has destroyed the world as we know it. Those that run the Holy City need blood and offspring, and girls when they arrive are divided into either bleeders or breeders.

Maryam experiences some humiliation and then escapes. Will she find support? Can she convince the people, who are heavily indoctrinated, that what they are supporting is evil? What has happened to the world outside the Islands?

You will have to read this thrilling story to find out, and believe me it is compulsive reading. I can’t wait for the next part of this Blood of the Lamb Trilogy.

Suitable for teenage readers.