Twelve year old Trey and his brother, seven year old Lou live in the Bahamas, on the beautiful white-sand beach of Long Cay Island. Told in first-person narrative by Trey, "Green Boy" involves him almost reverently describing the antics and personality of his little brother: a mute boy who communicates in hoots and grunts, and seems almost magically attuned to nature.
Living with their grandparents (their mother works on the mainland to earn more money) Trey is immensely self-sufficient and able to handle his boat in the waters around the island, taking his brother to all their secret places. But an upheaval is about to enter their lives: two in fact. Developers are coming to the island, intent on building a hotel on the island and endangering the ecosystem. The community rallies to protect their home, only to find that the foreign investors are prepared to fight dirty.
Yet the second occurrence is far more strange and dangerous - whilst out in their boat, the brothers are catapulted into another world: a city that appears to exist in the future. Grabbed by a group of underground rebels, Lou is heralded as their long-awaited mystical hero Lugh. Utterly self-assured, Lou seems to know exactly what to do, even as they evade the police and explore underground catacombs, searching for answers in both worlds.
"Green Boy" is a strange book: bizarre even. I've read (and loved) The Dark is Rising series several times, but readers searching for something similar will find little resemblance to her most famous work. Cooper excels in describing the dual worlds: the tropical beauty of the Bahamas and the cold sterility of Pangaia, and the characterization is strong as well, particularly Trey's thought process and speech patterns. He is mainly an observer to the action - it is the otherworldly Lou that is the real protagonist; Trey just recounts their adventures.
And they are strange adventures, ending in two deus ex machinas: a hurricane in the real world and the titular green boy in Pangaia. Furthermore, it's unclear how the two worlds are connected or what power is transporting them to and fro. Problems are solved in rather obscure ways - collecting fossils from the past to insert into cave walls, for example. Other things such as giant millipedes and telepathically-talking trees aren't given much explanation: they're just *there*.
"Green Boy" is perhaps best described as an environmental fairytale that contains a rather eclectic blend of different elements. Though it's readable enough, often the different aspects of the story don't quite seem to fit together: the threat of development and the return of Trey's deadbeat father would have worked just fine as a plot without all the futuristic stuff, and at times it almost feels like you're reading two completely unrelated stories.
Though the prose is beautifully rendered, I don't think I'll be reading "Green Boy" again in a hurry. The environmental tract isn't as obnoxious as it usually is (saving the planet is a worthy endeavor, but more often than not it doesn't make for very good fiction) but it's simply not as good as Cooper's usual fare. But don't let this put you off reading The Dark is Rising sequence, as that's brilliant.