- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: Pillar International Publishing Ltd.; 1 edition (25 Oct. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0957459831
- ISBN-13: 978-0957459830
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.2 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,704,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Young Dictator Paperback – 25 Oct 2013
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Top customer reviews
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The premise is intriguing. Jenny Kahn, a twelve-year-old girl, by strange means, wins a by-election and becomes a member of parliament. With some magical assistance, she ends up as dictator of the UK, which is just the starting point on a career of dictatorship that will involve aliens, giant spiders, a visit to Hell and more. Promising indeed.
The reality is mixed. On the good side, the imagination is unparalleled and often unrestrained, creating some bizarre and wonderful imagery. Although the main character is a touch two dimensional, there is a marvellous character in the form of Gran, an alchemist who claims to have been around in the time of the dinosaurs and is both totally evil and often hilarious. I love a scene early on when Gran is trying to conceal that she is knitting Jenny a rosette so she can stand as an MP. Asked what she is knitting, Gran replies 'An idol.' When questioned further she claims it is a false god to worship upstairs at a shrine she has constructed dedicated to old pagan beliefs. When it is pointed out that she lives in a bungalow, she responds 'Exactly!'
On the downside, the ideas are rather let down by a writing style that is virtually non-existent. We are just told what happens, plonkingly, without any feel for atmosphere or characterisation (apart from Gran). It was rather like reading a book written by a teenager. I was also uncomfortable about the casual lack of morality of practically all the main characters, especially Jenny. She has occasional slight twinges of conscience, but is quite happy for pretty well all the main supporting characters to be massacred in unpleasant fashions, often at her orders. Someone she goes out of her way to rescue, for example, is then crucified. There's also a rather tasteless idea that as a dictator she can join an online service called Fascbook, where she chat to various online friends including Adolf, Benito, Pol Pot and Idi Amin. While I am against any form of censorship, I do wonder if using people who caused such suffering as a comic turn is ideal in a book for teenagers.
I am left, then, in a bit of a quandary. There was certainly much to enjoy in the book, and I happily read on to see what the next exotic idea and weird happening would be, as you may well do too - and Rhys Hughes did not disappoint - but it would have been so much better with a lot of polishing and a big dollop of writing style.
01. has a cover, but not a dust wrapper (score -10)
02. has a cover with pages to read. is annoying to have a cover with nothing inside (score +10)
03. the main character is a teenager who is not a vampire (score +20)
04. there is also a grandmother, this always gives the "family touch" (score +10)
05. there is action in outer space and beyond, I like it very much (score +10)
06. has many word games which requires to read with great attention, I'm afraid of having missed a pun and that annoys me (score -20)
07. the teenager Jenny is not only flat, but it is also perpendicular, parallel, and even had, as I read the book, a position up to 10%, all depended on my position on the bed, on the couch, on foot - this greatly values a character (score +10)
08. the fact that the book provide, for only $14.75 USD, 13.5 laughter, 23 giggles and a BIG laugh accompanied by sneezing with mucus, especially since it occurred while reading The Young Dictator at the train station of Barcelos; the people looked strangely at me, which is normal because at that time I was a stranger reading a strange book at a not strange train station (score +60)
09. the book has a glossary, I did not like to be left in doubt if I am an adult or an older teen (score -10)
10. and very important the book comes to THE END (score +20)
Total assessment 100. Not bad on a scale of 0 to 100, but not in one from 0 to 1000.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Jenny Khan, a young girl...who I believe is in her early teen years or younger, becomes the dictator of the UK and eventually the entire world. The writing style is quick and easy to follow. The book is entertaining, but a bit lighter than I expected. My previous exposure to Hughes was limited to his writings in the Leviathan anthologies (which I very much enjoyed) and I think I expected more of the same here.
This novel is of interest to those interested in satirical and humorous speculative fiction.