The Young Inferno Paperback – 1 Mar 2012
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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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!
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!