Author Phillip Reeve was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize Children's Book Award.
©2006 Philip Reeve; (P)2007 Recorded Books
"A Jules Verne-like concoction filtered through the sensibilities of Douglas Adams....The climax is an absolute hoot, and leaves the door wide open for any number of sequels. Ages 10-up." (Publishers Weekly)
"This wonderfully imaginative story would make a perfect gift for any adventurous preteen." (Children's Literature)
"This fun read will appeal mostly to fans of the steampunk genre." (VOYA)
This is a magnificent story; great for the whole family, particularly if you have little Star Wars addicts like we do. Excitement, adventure, and a richly imagined and researched alternative history. In brief, this is a "young-orphans (not really, but they think so) make-good in the British Empire" story, with the added twist that, in place of the usual sea adventures, we have space adventures. HRM Victoria's empire includes the moon, Mars, and various Jovian satellites. Wow. The author manages to capture the speech and manners of Victorian England while still communicating to a modern young audience - no small feat! Fans of "real" history, particularly the history of science, will find fun tidbits scattered throughout for their consumption. Reeve does his homework.
In the words of the narrator: Huzzah!
This story harkens back to the HG Wells style of classic Sci-Fi with a lighthearted spirit. The narration by the young protagonist is really fun. Highly recommended. The sequel is just as good.
I'm of two minds with Larklight. First and foremost I am bowled over by the world Reeve has created. I can't recall ever reading a book with a more fully realized and original world. It seems as if every page contains a new species, device or concept - it's almost overwhelming. At the same time, the bits and pieces pulled from Victorian England are - to my remembering - historically accurate. Absolutely worth reading for this alone.
On the other hand, the plot itself isn't as compelling and drags at the end. Furthermore, the characters aren't nearly as well rendered as their environment, making it difficult to be that emotionally invested in what happens to them. It's almost as if Reeve had to decide where to put his efforts and plunked all his eggs into the world-building basket. What he created was extraordinary, and I hope that future efforts spread his talent around a bit more evenly.
The book is reminiscent (deliberately, I'm sure) of the British space opera I read as a boy, in which half the solar system, just like the earth, is painted with the red of the British Empire. Unfortunately, the charm does not quite last until the end of the book, which turns into "same adventure, different planet" by the end.
The narration is generally solid, but there are a few consistent lapses, which I think would not have happened had either the director or the narrator been English.
With two chidren 4 years apart and one of each, finding a book to please them both is difficult. We listen to audio in the car. We enjoyed listening to this book so much, we didn't want to get out of the car. Great adventure and creative characters. Not crazy about the narrator, but we even requested the author make it an animated feature.
Oh what a lovely book: smart, and funny, and imaginative - if only it had been read by someone with a real British accent and a sense of mischief equal to the author's. It's a testament to the story that I stuck it out, mispronunciations and all.
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