Thursday, 17 January 2013

Call Down Thunder - M's review

Call Down Thunder by Daniel Finn

 This review is part of our shadowing of the Carnegie 2013 Longlist and takes the judging criteria into consideration.

Call Down Thunder is set in a poor Latin American fishing village. The story is about Reve, who is about thirteen and his sister Mi who is about fifteen/sixteen. Their father is dead, their mother has gone and they have been taken in by one of the men in the village. However, Mi can hear spirit voices and lives alone in an old car. She is treated as a bit of a social outcast in the village. When Mi warns that a storm is coming and Reve gets caught right in the middle of it trying to be a hero, he and Mi set off on a journey that takes them right into the middle of danger.

Call Down Thunder by Daniel Finn
This novel bears similarities to SD Crockett’s After theSnow (also on this year's Carnegie longlist) both in terms of plot structure and voice. Unusually for the teen fiction I have read recently, Call Down Thunder is written in the third person.

I warmed very quickly to Reve and had my fingers crossed for him the whole way through. He is a delightful character and really drives this novel. His tenacity brings Harri from Pigeon English to mind, although Pigeon English is much more cutting than Call Down Thunder and Harri was more innocently naive than Reve.

I didn’t really connect with Mi at all and there was at least one character whose inclusion was more as a plot device than anything more substantial. However, there is a wider cast of characters in the novel that provides a good flavour for the simple but morally intricate economics of the village and its connection to the underbelly of the city.

Overall, I enjoyed Call Down Thunder although there were quite a few plot elements that I guessed too early on. However, I expected this novel to be pitched at older teens but I was pleasantly surprised to read a novel that delivers all the grit and grime of the criminal underworld of organised crime in a way that is accessible to young teen (and even older tween) readers.

I would recommend this to teen readers who like action and adventure stories as well as readers who like to think about the world and situtations that the characters live in. It is a good starting point for readers who’re getting ready to move onto edgier fiction that explores contemporary issues.

Publication details: Macmillan, 2012, London, hardback

This copy: received from the publisher for shadowing the Carnegie 2013 longlist

This review also counts towards M’s British Books Challenge 2013.

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