Most helpful positive review
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2013
It's nice - oh so nice! - to have Rebecca Stead back again. You feel as if you've just gone down a block or two from her last outing to encounter another group of kids having an adventure and struggling with the vagaries of school and family life. Not so much the Big as the Little Apple. In this case our protagonist is Georges (silent 's'), coping with living in a smaller apartment, a nurse mother who is on double shifts, a caring but unemployed father, school bullies and a nascent friendship with the weirdly monikered 'Safe' his sister 'Candy' - oh and their brother 'Pigeon'. Georges becomes inculcated into becoming a trainee spy for Safer, spying on the mysterious man in black in the apartment, as well as struggling with the forthcoming school science taste test.
There are some really nice ideas in this book, particularly about phonetics and the nature of perception, and a book aimed at young people that can name check another couple of Georges, the pontillist painter Seurat and the President George Washington is clearly not dumbing down. And yet Stead keeps it all so readable, and drily witty, full of one liners. It's as if Woody Allen had (in his heyday) embarked on a career as a children's writer, the restults might have looked somemthing like this.
As in her previous book 'When You Reach Me' the chapters are very short and dialogue heavy but her themes are large and universal. If it's perhaps not quite as captivating or complicated a plot as 'WYRM' its ultimately a moving read, a testatment to young friendships. No longer quite the new kid on the block Rebecca Stead has marked out her own territory - and she's here to stay.