Tuesday, 28 May 2013

In Darkness by Nick Lake

The good thing about shadowing competitions, and being one of those people who set themselves reading goals, which the world might possibly end if they don't achieve, is that it makes you read books that you would certainly not otherwise read.

Of the books shortlisted for this years' Carnegie Medal, this one was the one I least wanted to read initially.  Actually, that's not strictly true - the one written completely in verse seems even less appealing.  I had enough of verse novels for one lifetime after wading through "Paradise Lost", "Paradise Regained" and "Aurora Leigh" at university.

I don't know why I was so set against this book.  After all Between Shades of Grey, which I loved last year, was pretty harrowing in places.  I think it's the knowledge that the situation in Haiti is still so grave, and I find it makes me feel very powerless to read about situations which are still so bleak, especially when the protagonists of the book are young people.

The first 20 odd pages of the book did not do much to change my mind.  I found it very difficult to understand what was going on, as I didn't really understand the perspective shift at first.  This could have been because I was reading it at odd times such as waiting for public transport.  It's the sort of book that requires serious attention, rather than reading in dribs and drabs. 

Once I gave the book the respect it deserved, it began to make sense (I may have told kids this before, perhaps once or twice.  Along with "you can't tell if you're going to like it after only a few pages").  In fact it was really rather wonderful.  Interesting and clever, and made me want to learn more about Haiti.  The characters were cleverly drawn, without being patronising. 

Certainly not one for small children, but a very thought-provoking read, and I'm certainly glad I read it.

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