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Monday, September 14, 2009
Introduction: When I heard about this new middle reader/YA series I hadn't a clue as to what to expect. There was very little information out there on the Purloined Boy, so I went in blind not knowing what I was getting myself into. The first thing that catches ones eye is that of the cover. This is definitely a case of great cover and great book inside!
Summary: Superbia is a town filled with many children. It's very dark and dreary and hides a major secret. The children that live in Superbia are orphans who aren't allowed to say such bad words as "home" or "parents". Any memory that they have of home life is suppressed and they are encouraged not to think about what it used to be like. The reason behind all this is because Superbia is run by bogeymen. Bogeymen who kidnapped these children from their parents long ago.
Trevor is a young boy who has lived in Superbia for a long time. Although he often pretends to go along with not remembering home he has many many memories of his former life. After one vivid dream of his parents, Trevor asks when he can go home which leads to whole string of events. He is taken in the middle of the night in order to either have his outlandish behavior modified or to head to the pantry. The bogeymen that have kidnapped the children have done so for one reason: to eventually eat them.
There is hope as a little mouse meets up with Trevor and offers him hope: a chance to escape and someday go home. Trevor follows the mouse and finds out that Superbia holds a secret society that is trying it's best to help all the children who really want to be helped. They believe that some day they can help these children go back to the homes they used to belong to.
Trevor meets up with Maggie, another little orphan who lives in Superbia but isn't what she appears on the outside. She holds a secret that will shock Trevor and leads to a great adventure.
Analysis: The Purloined Boy is everything that adults and kids look for in middle age/YA books and more. There are engaging characters, lots of action and mystery, and a way of telling a story that makes one feel as though they are right there inside the story.
One of the first things that I look for in YA books is that of the characters. The characters in the Purloined Boy were realistic and very detailed. Trevor and Maggie although they are 10 years old, acted just like 10 year old kids do. They asked questions about what was going on, trying to grasp what was happening to them. Along with the questions the kids asked were that of how the adults treated the kids (with the exception of the bogeymen). When a kid asked a question they got an answer, they weren't made to feel stupid or have their questions ignored and passed off as pointless. On the other hand adults weren't portrayed as stupid or silly characters, there were very influential adults that helped the kids and were important to the plot line. All of these are fairly important in middle reader books because they help in making it feel realistic and lifelike.
The second area that makes the Purloined Boy such a great read is that of the action and mystery involved in the storyline. There is plenty of action that happens to not only Trevor but that of the characters of Maggie and some of the other not so nice characters in the story. There is a flow of the book that isn't to quick that the little details get overlooked but that is quick enough that readers attention isn't lost. This was very helpful because it didn't feel as though parts of the book lingered on minor details trying to drag the book out. Instead Clay keeps the action rolling and something is always happening to someone in the book at some time.
Although there is a little draw back to the timing of the book. Towards the end of the book it did start to get a little confusing as far as time line. There were times when I thought only a day or two had passed based on the information and flow and I find out it's been weeks. This is a minor detail but it's something to keep in mind while reading.
The last strength of the Purloined Boy and perhaps the most important element is that of the story telling. Mortimus Clay does an excellent job of telling the story in a voice and tone as though the readers are being read the story out loud. The first two strengths, the characters and the flow are very engaging but the most engaging characteristic is that of the voice of Clay. Mortimus Clay is witting but not smart allicky. There are plenty of silly parts that aren't completely eye rolling and appropriate for adults and children alike.
On a side note to the voice of Clay. I do feel if you are looking for this book for middle school readers that sometimes, not all the time, Clay does seem to use fairly large words while telling the story. As an adult reading it didn't get in my way, but for a child reading the book this may be a small hurdle. Although this does encourage kids to expand their vocabulary.
Another area that Clay excels in is that of plot development. Instead of choosing just one storyline plot and staying with it. Clay introduces readers to the multi-layer aspect of reading. There are many sub plots beyond Trevor, such as Maggie and her worries and that of the 3 bullies who are tempted by the bogeymen to do evil. There is a lot of depth to story lines that will only grow with future installments of the series.
Although the story line can at times be a little dark, not scary dark but it's not all fluff and candy. Clay knows how to show readers that although there are terrible things happening and even though it may appear as there is no hope in the world, there is always a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. Every time a character got into a situation they never completely gave up and instead would try and find a little bit of hope or way out of the situation that they found themselves in.
In the end the Purloined Boy was a major find and certainly a joy to read. Mortimus Clay takes the myth of bogeymen living in the closets of children and really runs with it. Although the story at times can be a little dark for children, it really is rich in great, lovable characters that are a part of a great story. This is definitely a series that I look forward to reading in the future.
NOTE: Mortimus Clay will be making a guest stop here at Fantasy Book Critic later this week to talk about some of the aspects of writing about the fantasy world.
12:02 AM | Posted by Cindy | | Edit Post