Thursday, 1 August 2013

Boonie - M's review

Boonie by Richard Masson
Reviewed by M

Boonies are outsiders. JD is a Boonie, he just doesn’t know it yet. Set in a dry almost waterless fantasy (and maybe futuristic) world, an eco-message runs like an undercurrent through the novel, which takes a typical children’s quest story: a young teenager loses both parents (one to death) and goes on a journey of search and survival. Along the way, he makes a couple of good friends and the search quickly turns into an adventurous quest to uncover dark secrets of a world JD didn't know existed, save himself and maybe even the world. The cover image featured here is for the paperback edition and it captures the setting for Boonie really well (note: the black O is not a vinyl record!).

Boonie by Richard Masson - paperback edition
Boonie begins as an edgy, gritty read for older teens. However, it quickly becomes something more likely to appeal to a younger readership and I had to reframe my reading expectations.

Although it isn’t a fully happy-ever-after novel and there are some harrowing scenes, the overall tone is warm and the characters of JD, speechless Godrum and feisty Aqua are very likeable. There is a lot of moving plot and action. Boonie manages to pack in a lot of thought-provoking elements too. The plot moves quickly from one adventurous and dangerous scene to another (sometimes I wanted it to linger a little longer to find out more about what was going on in each one).

Themes and issues raised in this novel include the earth’s resources (especially water), slavery, power and rebellion. The overall themes and ideas reminded me of SD Crockett’s After the Snow, though the two novels are quite different and Boonie may appeal more to a younger, middle grade readership than After the Snow. The warm tone reminded me in some ways of Lois Lowry’s The Giver (again, these novels are quite different and The Giver isn’t really a quest story and is more hard-hitting). 

Younger readers who like adventure and would like to explore fantasy/science fiction may enjoy Boonie. The publishers’ Hot Key Ring indicates that Boonie's content includes Danger, Dark Future, Rebellion and Friendship. I would agree and maybe add a little of Eco/Environment.

Other eco/environmental novels for teens include After the Snow by SD Crockett (weather) and Breathe by Sarah Crossan (oxygen). There are also Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd and Julie Bertagna’s Exodus and Zenith (which I haven’t read yet).
Boonie's Hot Key Ring (by Hot Key Books)

Publication details: Hot Key Books, London, 2013, hardback (paperback out in August 2013)
This copy: uncorrected proof received for review from the publisher

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