Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 272 pages
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 3/5 stars
I have read a number of David Almond books and really enjoyed them. My favorite of his is The Skellig, but I also really enjoyed Heaven Eyes. I was excited to get this book for review, until I started reading it and realized the whole book is written phonetically and is very hard to read.
Billy Dean is a secret boy. His mother and father keep him hidden away in a room for most of his life. Then one day his father goes away and his mother brings him out into the town of Blinkbonny. At some time Blinkbonny was devastated by bombing and the citizens there see Billy as a sign of hope. They hope he will be able to do magical things like talk to the dead and heal the living. No one has really ever asked Billy what he wants though.
I would have liked this book more if it had been written in a way that was a bit easier to read. The whole book is written phonetically (words are written how they sound, not how they are actually spelled).
If you can get past the lack of correct spelling and struggle through the mangled words, this is an interesting and eerie story of a boy raised in isolation after a city has been bombed. People think he is special, an Angel Child.
The story is told from the boy’s point of view. He is very underdeveloped for his age and comes across as having some sort of developmental disorder. Because of this the story is told in a stark and simple way. Despite his simplicity the boy has excellent insight into the beauty of the world as he sees it. It is interesting and refreshing to see the world through his eyes, since he is incredibly naive.
He doesn’t really ever see bad in the people around him. Despite the fact that his father was abusive and the people in Blinkbonny all want to use him for something. He doesn’t really seem to have capacity for anger either. He’s an interesting character and the mystery around Blinkbonny is an interesting one too.
I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if I hadn’t had to read half of it outloud to figure out what the words were. The written is strangely beautiful and haunting (again if you can read it).
Overall a haunting and intriguing story plagued by a stylized phonetic writing that is very hard to read. I would recommend skipping this book just because it really is absolutely no fun to read. The story is good, but not good enough to make up for the struggle of reading it. Check out The Skellig by Almond instead or any of the other Almond books out there, I am guessing they are all better than this one.