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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Starships and Aliens Review,
This review is from: Bugtown (Kindle Edition)Concept/World
This a children's book written for the 11-14 age range. The setting is a mix of medieval town, aliens and dinosaurs, which I loved - one of the great things about children's fiction is when it jumps out of the box and is truly fantastic.
There is certainly plenty of action in this story, which rips along at a good pace. I am still at a loss as to why Robert apparently kept being possessed by the spirit of Robert the Bruce, unsure as to who the King really was and why the Baby had to do what he did at the end of the story. Personally I'm fine with unresolved questions but readers who like all ends neatly tied off in clear explanation may find that unsatisfying.
I felt that Robert was more engaging than Rachel. She seems to be the generic "big sister" while Robert is portrayed in more depth with his problems making him a more sympathetic character. The baby was hilariously obnoxious and the King of the Beggars is a villain in the finest tradition of the Sheriff of Nottingham.
The cover is amusing and a good fit for the content of the book. There are a few minor editing blarts (they're/their, broken paragraph, passed/past) which did not affect my enjoyment of the story. My Whispernet reader was jumping 12-14 locations at each page turn. I estimated it to be between 30-35,000 words (apologies if my maths is out), which makes it a quick read by adult book standards but a good length for young readers not yet ready to embark on epics.
This book made me laugh out loud three times when I was reading, and I was often grinning at the banter and one-liners. I would certainly recommend it to anyone, kid or adult, who likes zany fun in their sci fi. Embrace the "wonderful shambles" and enjoy.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining. Not perfect, but great fun.,
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This review is from: Bugtown (Kindle Edition)Book Review: Bugtown by John McKenzie
Reviewed by J Bryden Lloyd
Writing Style - 3.5/5.0 (Good)
This is a fun book, more than a demonstration of writing prowess, and as such it offers plenty to the younger readers who will undoubtedly have a lot of fun reading it. The narrative is good and flowing, the dialogue between the siblings who are the two main characters is fun, and typical of children in their age-group, although from time-to-time I felt it could have been a little tidier.
Character Development - 4.0/5.0 (Very Good)
At the start it isn't obvious where the characters are meant to go in terms of development. The older sister, although a leading presence, does appear to remain the most two-dimensional of the main characters, while the younger brother claims the lion's share of the work the author seems to put in. Added to this you have the `bugs' of the title, who it seems are not what they appear to be, the baby... who isn't a baby, the beggar... who isn't a beggar, and even Santa makes an appearance, but guess what? Yup! He isn't Santa.
On top of that lot, the sister appears to be some sort of body-guard at points during the story, while the brother becomes Robert The Bruce incarnate, complete with a craving for - and the ability to wield - a `great big Scottish sword'.
Each develops in their own way, and although there are occasions where an adult reading this might frown and question what they have read, these characters are built very cleverly to encourage a child's imagination.
Descriptive - 4.5/5.0 (Excellent)
From the start, the author carefully builds the world the children find themselves in, along with the clothing and the events happening around them. The walled town with the castle at its centre is nicely vivid and the varied residents of the town, as well as the children's reactions to them, are nicely defined.
The banquet hall scene is very well built and described, and the subsequent happenings within it are cleverly entertaining. This leads on to some fast-paced scenes where the author keeps up some quality descriptive whilst keeping the action running.
Language & Grammar - 4.0/5.0 (Very Good)
This is clearly aimed at a young audience and with that in mind, it keeps a rigid level of understanding and a considered language level designed to challenge, but not overwhelm.
I found a few little foibles and minor technical issues in the grammar. Primarily the creeping use of terms and words more local to the author than to the potential general audience of the book. There were also a handful of editing issues, but these were not significant and not widespread.
In an ideal world, perhaps anglicising some of the text would make this a more appealing read to a wider audience.
Plot - 4.0/5.0 (Very Good) - MILD SPOILERS
Admittedly, the main plot is a little drowned amongst the sub-plots, and there are things that remain frustratingly unexplained, specifically the how and why of what the children are doing there in the first place.
The supposed `rescue' of the baby turns out to be far more complicated than it sounds, and ends up as a kidnapping, which leads to a kidnapping from the kidnappers, and then the actual rescue by the initial kidnappers, to retrieve the baby from the second group of kidnappers in order to help the baby get back to where he started... are you following this?
In fact, this is a very entertaining element within the plot, and one that does appear to serve to tie up a few of the loose ends.
General - 4.5/5.0 (Excellent)
Once you get past the opening section of this book, things begin to happen at a reasonably fast pace. No, not everything is explained as you might like, but I don't think this is the point of the story, which takes these two ordinary siblings and throws them into a place where even they don't know what's going on.
This fact alone makes certain reactions, arguments and events in the story entirely realistic, as the sister's sole purpose is to get home, and the brother just wants to rescue the baby... and occasionally have a big Scottish sword.
No, this isn't a great work of literature, but it is light-hearted, cleverly original and a lot of fun.
Worthy of four stars, but I have to admit the brother and the baby characters made this much more fun. I more-than liked this story, so five it is.
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Bugtown by John McKenzie