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The Young Inferno Paperback – 1 Mar 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847801099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847801098
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 0.9 x 25 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 246,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The words are from the extraordinary John Agard whose inventive verse is a constant wonder. Add the delights of artwork by Satoshi Kitamura and the whole book is inspired and tremendous; a total triumph.

(School Librarian)

From the Inside Flap

Can our hoodie hero make it through nine circles of Hell and back again? Will he find love with his soulmate Beatrice?
Discover the city of Dis where everybody disses everybody.
Meet Frankenstein, the lovesick bouncer with the bling-bling.
Come face to face with the Furies, a gang of snake-haired females in T-shirts. Prepare for a host of gluttons, bigots and plunderers from the world of history and politics.
John Agard fires Dante’s Inferno into the 21st century in a red-hot retelling, with wicked artwork from Satoshi Kitamura.

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Very pleased with purchase. As described. Many thanks
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x955a2ed0) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x955a7a68) out of 5 stars This was both an intriguing and unsettling work, one that will lend itself to a lot of discussion! 9 Dec. 2009
By Deb - Published on
Format: Hardcover
He was in the middle of a nightmare, but it wasn't something dreamlike, it was real. He was on his hands and knees in the middle of a forest. His hoodie was pulled over his head and the black overtones in the forest made his eyes seem wide and made him look frightened. It wasn't long before a leopard, a lion and a "she-wolf appeared howling for blood." Someone else soon appeared who was less frightening and intimidating. He was in the treetops and was holding onto a staff. He was Aesop and he would lead him "to the depths of Hell." As they started the journey, he was unable to text his parents to tell them where he was going.

The young man truly became frightened when he approached a gate that said in part, "Abandon Hope All Who Enter Here." It was a screaming hellish nightmare. Charon soon arrived to ferry them across to the Otherworld. Aesop would guide him until they reached "Hell's Ninth Circle," but along the way he would see the dregs of society rotting for all eternity. He would see Frankenstein, the "Keeper of Hell's gate." There were those who had lived for the flesh, people of science and arts (even Einstein), the gluttons of the world, the big spenders (with the "glittering bling-bling"), and the tight-fisters ("bickering over cash"). There were those who dissed everyone, the fraudsters, those who "slaughtered the innocents" . . . somehow everyone was there. Would he escape from the bowels of Hell? Was there true love waiting for him at the end?

This was both an intriguing and unsettling work. This story is loosely based on Dante's Inferno, but is written in thirteen cantos. I was amazed at how accurately the nine circles portrayed the present day attitudes of certain types of "sinners," including those who constantly diss one another. For a young person there is a different kind of paradise awaiting at the end of this book. The artwork and story are simply amazing, but I'm not sure if this book is one that will be grabbed off the shelves by the young adult. As I see it, this book would be an amazing read and discuss book in the classroom setting. This is a modern day Inferno that lends itself to a lot of discussion!
HASH(0x955a7d50) out of 5 stars Hoodie goes to hell 30 Jan. 2015
By William Timothy Lukeman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Rewriting Dante's classic poem of a journey through Hell as the tale of a contemporary English youth taking that same journey? In most hands, a recipe for disaster -- but not here! Writer John Agard has made the poem itself contemporary with very little difficulty, as the various sins & sinners Dante wrote about are still with us today. He's cast his tale in an excellent approximation of Dante's terza rima, not unlike the classic John Ciardi translation he acknowledges in his preface; and he mingles a certain stately, classical diction with modern slang to superb effect. After all, Dante was writing in the vernacular of his time, as spoken in the streets, so why not apply the same rule to this adaptation?

What's really impressive is that he hasn't tried to dumb down the story for younger readers. While it's enormously entertaining, it's also quite serious, evoking a genuine sense of dread & despair when necessary, and including his own version of Dante's own coarse & dark humor when necessary. In a delightful innovation, he's replaced Virgil with Aesop as the young protagonist's guide through Hell, incorporating several of the classic fables -- an innovation that works because it's clever & smart.

I'd be remiss in not mentioning Agard's gifted collaborator, illustrator Satoshi Kitamura. From the opening lines, where the withered leaves on the trees in the dark wood are depicted as ghastly faces & skulls, almost subliminal at first, it's clear that the story will be as visually striking as the text. In some ways I'm reminded of the scathing drawings George Grosz created in 1930s Germany, vividly skewering the corruption of society from the bottom to the top.

If you're hoping to introduce younger readers to the classics, this is what you want -- a book that does justice to the original work, but can also stand on its own quite nicely. For those who've read Dante in many fine translations before, you're likely to be happily surprised by what you find here. For those coming to the story for the first time, it's as good an introduction as you're going to find -- highly recommended!
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