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Branford-Boase Longlist: Week 10


Somehow, I managed to miss last week’s Branford-Boase post. I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but I’m blaming technical issues (with my brain). Anyway, to make up for the oversight this weekend I have two posts. Today I’m looking at The Disappeared and Tiger Thief, and then tomorrow I have three more books to talk about.

The Disappeared by C.J. Harper
The Disappeared
Jackson's life is perfect; he's top of his class, wants for nothing and is destined to be part of the Leadership that runs the country. But when a violent incident leaves Jackson badly beaten and his best friend dead, everything changes. Suddenly his teachers claim not to know him, his records are deleted...Jackson doesn't exist anymore. Dumped in an Academy, where teachers are kept in cages and being a good fighter is all that matters, Jackson realises that to survive he needs to adapt, and fast. And, as he learns the Academy's terrible secrets, Jackson discovers that his whole life has been based on lies; the Leadership is corrupt to the core and they're coming after him. But time is running out. Can Jackson destroy the man at the heart of it all before he makes Jackson disappear for good?

I enjoyed The Disappeared. It has a good plot, which turns very sinister, and it is exciting and tense. The surveillance society that Jackson lives in reminded me of George Orwell’s 1984, and his situation made me think about some of Kafka’s stories. The main action of the book takes place within an institution, which is purportedly a school. Unfortunately the main lesson learnt in it is violence.

Jackson is super bright academically and doesn’t fit into his new environment at all. He tends to talk too much and it takes him a while to realise he doesn’t know everything. At times he really irritated me, I just wanted him to shut up and listen rather than talking at the other young people. But, there’s no doubt that he uses his education for the good of others, and for that I can’t help but admire him.

I liked the big climactic scene at the end, and the sense that there is much more to come was confirmed when I looked for a sequel – The Wilderness came out this March. I can imagine the book as a film; I think there are some images that would translate powerfully into a movie.

Take a look at the review over at The Bookbag and this one at So Little Time for Books.

Tiger Thief by Michaela Clarke
The Tiger Thief
Sharat and his majestic white tiger, Emira, are two halves of the same soul. The thought of being separated is unbearable. So when Emira mysteriously disappears in the middle of their circus act, Sharat is devastated. He's also determined to get her back, despite the force of the Empire being ranged against him. His journey will be perilous and revealing, and shot through with magic.

I thought Tiger Thief was pretty enjoyable too. The book itself is lovely; the embossed cover illustrations are repeated inside the book too. I like the adventure/quest theme of the story and it does get rather exciting as Sharat learns more about the secrets of the City of Jewels.

The fantastical elements of the story are interesting, especially the ghuls. Magic weaves around everything in the story. I liked the descriptions of the circus at the beginning of the book too. Sharat is helped (and hindered) in his quest to find his missing tiger, Emira, by some very resourceful characters. Aya is brilliant, and without her he’d be lost.

I did occasionally feel that the plot took a while to move forward and I’m not sure that the story is complete yet. I imagine a sequel is planned.

There is a lovely review at Mr Ripleys Enchanted Books.

Tomorrow I'll have this week's books to discuss: Gabriel's Clock by Hilton Pashley, After Eden by Helen Douglas and The Child's Elephant by Rachel Campbell-Johnston.

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