Saturday, 7 May 2011

Mini reviews: The Glass Collector, Primeval (Shadow of the Jaguar) and Duty Calls: Dunkirk

So I like to try and stay up to date with the books I’m sent for review so I’ve decided to write a collection of mini reviews to be posted each week to help me keep up to date. This week I’m featuring mini reviews of The Glass Collector (Anna Perera), Primeval: Shadow of the Jaguar (Steven Saville) and Duty Calls: Dunkirk (James Holland).

The Glass Collector - Anna Perera

Published: February 3rd 2011, Puffin
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Fifteen-year-old Aaron lives amongst the rubbish piles in the slums of Cairo. His job? To collect broken glass. His life? Wasted. His hope? To find a future he can believe in.

My review: When I met Anna Perera and listened to her speak about The Glass Collector at a Puffin event earlier this year I was struck by how much she genuinely cared about her story and the characters within in - this comes across so strongly in The Glass Collector, as does her skill at writing stories that will have to smiling one moments and crying the next.

As much as I hate to say it, I have to admit I had no idea that this went on in Cairo - it makes me feel so ignorant that there could be fifteen year old boys struggling to make ends meet, collecting broken glass from piles of rubbish just to afford food. Despite his difficult life Aaron is such a sweet character and I was desperate to see him get out of the slums with hope for the future. Whether it happens or not I won't tell you - you're just going to have to read on to find out.

What I will say, though, is that I loved the fact Perera is realistic in everything she writes - she doesn't patronise the audience for a second and I think that's something every teen who picks up The Glass Collector will appreciate.

Rating: A


Primeval: Shadow of the Jaguar - Steven Saville

Published: May 2008, Titan Books
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Primeval sees evolutionary zoologist Nick Cutter make the terrifying discovery that prehistoric creatures are alive and well in the twenty-first century. The natural world is turned on its head and humanity faces extinction as unexplained anomalies rip holes in the fabric of time and allow creatures from the earliest stages of Earth's development to roam the modern world.

Set in the rainforests of Peru in this brand new Primeval adventure Cutter, Stephen, Abbie and Connor face a bigger challenge than they could have possibly imagined…

A heady mixture of action and adventure, Cutter and his team are forced to confront terrifying creatures from the past and the future with gripping consequences.

My review: Well... This one didn't go so well for me. I had really high hopes for it as I thought the premise was interesting but, for me, this is one situation where I really should have judged a book by its cover. It is not a good cover. Well, not in my opinion anyway. But then again my favourite covers normally involved some sort of glitter and happy, tanned looking teens clinking cocktail glasses and cavorting on a beach - I'm all about the superficial covers.

I just couldn't gel with any of the characters in this book and they were instantly gone from my mind as soon as I finished the book. I only finished it a couple of days ago and honestly couldn't tell you the name of a single character. I've seen the TV show and was mildly entertained for a few episodes but I really don't think the same amount of love and effort has gone into the books.

The story itself just felt a little jumbled, as if it hadn't quite been plotted properly. The pace soared in some moments and then completely dropped for fifty pages afterwards. I didn't feel like the stakes were particularly high, and as I could barely even remember the names of the characters, I didn't feel any real pull towards them or care what happened to them at the end of the novel.

This one isn't for me - I'd recommend it to fans of the TV show, maybe only hardcore fans of the TV show actually. If the cover is your sort of thing then you'll probably enjoy this one. If you like your covers (like me) a little sparkly and vapid then I'd advise steering clear of this series.

Rating: C


Duty Calls: Dunkirk - James Holland

Published: 2nd June 2011, Puffin
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from back cover): Friday 24th May, 1940. Private Johnny Hawke, ages sixteen, awakens to artillery fire. Hours later, stukas scream down from the sky. Messerschmitt fighters roar towards them. Trucks burst into flames.

Now men and mules lay dead and dying, severed limbs twisted grotesquely as blood soaks into the cobbled streets. As Private Hawke - and his fellow soliders - prepare to stop the German advance, there's only one question on everyone's lips...

How will they survive?

My review: Wow, this is certainly an exciting book. Duty Calls: Dunkirk grabbed my attention from the second I cracked the spine and I barely had time to pause for breath before I'd finished the story. The pace in this one is insane and it's absolutely going to delight teenage boy readers.

When I first received a copy of Duty Calls I was a little skeptical about how high the quality of the writing was going to be. I assumed it was going to be all about the plot, with little emphasis put on the writing but that isn't true at all. Holland really shocked me with his effortless and entertaining writing style and he captured the voice of sixteen year old Johnny Hawke perfectly.

This is definitely one for the boys - they are just going to eat it up and I'm fully convinced this has definite crossover appeal. I'm sure any fans of war stories, regardless of age, will love this non-stop, high energy adventure.

Rating: B


  1. Great mini reviews - thanks for bringing thesee to my attention they all look great for the school library :D

  2. i certainly agree - dunkirk is going to be a very popular boy book


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