Not That I...
on June 03, 2012
If I hadn't known differently, I'd have said Dai Alanye was a woman. He must have a deep understanding of women from the way he describes their clothes and their attitude to them. A had plenty of vicarious shopping trips while reading ''Not That I..'' and enjoyed every one.
And all the descriptions of delicious meals - they make the book both cosy and real. Not idealised, though - there's almost as much class-consciousness as in Jane Austen which might surprise non-American readers.
Believable characters and dialogue, humour (wait for the reference to The Mill on the Floss) and a satisfying, realistic ending make this a grown-up romance.
I love this book. As usual it has all the Dai Allanye earthiness and sense of the everyday but there's mystery and suspense too. Great dialogue and characters, especially the seedy La Touche. The main characters develop in self-knowledge as we follow them. Matters of race are touched on but with realism, not melodrama. Ordinary, believable people playing out a convincing and touching romance.
Lovejoy's World is a sinister place, the approach to which is described by Dai Alanye in convincing detail. But from the beginning the tone is ominous. Here criminals are deported but who is the criminal and who the law-abiding? A world with few comforts and little to eat, one nevertheless feels the inhabitants will do anything for money.It's a joyless place, a frontier to the utterly unknown. At times it seems Wally and Kiera are out only contact with normality and clarity, the only ones we can trust.
Strange animals and insects abound - unicorns without horns; ponies which are in fact centaurs - human-eating half men with spears. This is no airy-fairy fantasy, however, but down-to-earth scariness. Lovejoy's World offers futuristic space travel back in time to a terrifying age which the reader hopes will never be. Thrilling and thought-provoking.
Literally 'Treasure Island' on another planet - the crashed spaceship 'Arrow of Time' with its cargo of valuable circuits is the treasure hunters' goal - this is an exciting, humorous book with wonderful descriptions of outlandish scenery.
Valys with her hair of gold dresses as a boy to take part in the expedition and gives rise to some comic scenes, not least when nature calls amongst a band of ruffians smelling little better than donkeys. But she's a gutsy, attractive character, if vain of her hair, who finds her hero at the end.
The dialogue is excellent and has an authentic eighteenth century feel and the passages where the hunters are stalked by vicious and sinister bears are thrilling.
This is very much the story of Frankie and the various scrapes she gets into, mostly thanks to her forthright and sometimes combative nature. She's not averse to joining in with physical encounters such as happens rather comically at the school prom, and a host of other misunderstandings which see her losing her temporary job and in the end almost getting expelled from college.
But for all that you can't help liking and even admiring her. She's got guts but she has principles too and stands by them.
A perfect book for YA, addressing all the things that matter to them and providing in Frankie an engaging and unusual character.
It's a dryly funny book with some sly swipes at the education system.
The thing that stands out about this book is that it doesn't beat you over the head with the bizarre - you could be on the Yorkshire moors or somewhere until the goblins come along. The characters (very believable) have all the ordinary human failings as well as virtues. The technical bits, especially the spaceship, convinced me, though admittedly I can't even drive a car. The point is, the story interests because the characters do - you care about what happens to them as you don't with many lesser fantasy novels. I'm sure if we ever found ourselves in space it would be like this and this is how we'd react to it.