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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 22 May 2014
Incredibly well written and engrossing. I've read it three times so far - in the space of about 2 years. But there again I also read High Rise, Super Cannes and Cocaine Nights three times in the first year I had these books. Obviously much grittier and "realistic" than Cocaine Nights and Super Cannes. I won't go into the story and actual writing, as other review discuss this in detail.

It's very sad that J G Ballard didn't gain a reputation as an author during his lifetime with the general public, he seems to have been more much acknowledged by literary types and by other writers. He's been described as not being "mainstream" for want of a better phrase, but I find his work far more readable than say, Martin Amis, and a whole lot less depressing than a lot of books my John Irving.
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on 1 October 2016
There's restraint and sensitivity here. Jim is a clever and inquisitive boy, often over-thinking his situation, reading clues and taking cues from the adults around him. It's all he has to help him survive in this war. He makes himself useful and makes friends with anyone who might help enable his survival.
I've just bought the sequel, the Kindness of Women and look forward to more of our hero. Jim is loosely based on J G Ballard's own internment as a child living in Shanghai.
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on 22 June 2014
Ordered this to read as I love the film. I still prefer the story in the film, even though only elements of it are close to the truth, it is just a story. It was almost disappointing to discover the book so different, and the true story different again. However, I still enjoyed the book, if something so harrowing can be enjoyed. It was certainly thought provoking, and made more tragic being seen from the point of a child, whose mind cannot understand/accept what is really happening and insists on seeing things as it/he wishes them to be.
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on 3 March 2014
I enjoyed this book. I had seen Steven Spielberg's film of the story a couple of times and while looking for another book, I saw this one and decided to get it. It goes along at a good pace and is fairly autobiographical as it tells of the 2nd World War adventures of the young J. G. Ballard in Shanghai, though as we find out in notes at the end of the book that Ballard had changed some things from his memory. These changes don't spoil the book in any way though and I recommend it.
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on 10 January 2015
The history about the Japanese invasion of China was a subject I knew little about. The cruelty inflicted by the Japanese forces and the dropping of the atomic bomb was well known. In places I found it difficult to follow but the description of the war torn landscape told in a stark matter of fact way absorbs the reader into the realities of war. Told through the eyes of a child the book left me thinking about the way a child sees life and lives through awful circumstances, adapting to life to survive.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the well being of children or general history.
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on 24 January 2015
Enjoyed this book.

We are first introduced to a boy living in China just before Japanese invasion in World War II.
Witnessing his plight, whereby he is forced to find his way to survive alone in a country occupied by hostile forces, I found myself wondered what I might do in the same circumstances.

Later the book enters a second phase as the boy is captured and sent to a prison camp - this again we see through his eyes.
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on 4 July 2013
Most of us have seen Steven Spielberg's film of this book - but some things in it are hard to understand. Reading the book makes it all clear. It starts with a vivid picture of the relaxed and privileged life led by western expatriates in the Far East before World War 2, then moves on to life as an internee - and this is Ballard's own story. In hindsight, it seems bizarre that the people living in Shanghai (and the same goes for Hong Kong and Singapore) were blissfully unaware of the apocalypse about to unfold.

Watch the film and read the book - you won't regret it.
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on 10 April 2014
At once a coming of age story and a piece of historical reportage (however fictionalised obviously, since it's a novel), the book brims with emotion (but not self-pity) and authenticity. What could be a grim prison camp piece turns into an ode to life and survival despite everything, of friendship in the most trying circumstances, of redemption, even of the 'bad guys'. Very human and very uplifting, in a paradoxical way.
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on 25 September 2013
starting in China in the period immediatelt prior to and WW2, this book charts the experiences of a young boy as the war progresses. It is based loosely on Ballard's own expereicens and charts the harrowing events that unfolded as the war progressed.
This is a gripping, if at times uncomfortable, tale that the reader will not want to put down; can't recommendd it highly enough
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on 14 May 2015
It's difficult to describe how important this book is. The only way to appreciate this is to read it, preferably more than once. In my opinion every world leader should have it constantly by their side. If words have the power to change the way we think proof is in these pages - WONDERFUL.
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