We were sent both these books for review from Barrington Stoke. Their website says “Struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers deserve the best books available” and that is what they are aiming to produce. Both these books are written in relatively simple direct language, but with good strong story lines and characters – I hoped they would work for Small, who tends to like ideas above his chronological age, but gets turned off by overly wordy books, even though his vocabulary and ability are well up there. I think basically his tolerance level for waffling is low 😉
I read both books first and was impressed. They don’t read like easy books, if that makes any sense, they aren’t talking down to ppl. I particularly enjoyed My name is O, although I thought Pale was an interesting concept, and proposed some intriguing moral questions. And I expected Small to feel much the same.
Turned out I was totally wrong – he felt that O was utterly implausible and really enjoyed Pale. Having said that, a 50% hit rate where he is concerned is pretty good going – he is what could be called a tough audience 😉
So, what did I like about the books?
The premise of My name is O is good. The characterisation is excellent and I thought plausible (opinion of my 8 year old notwithstanding) and it carries along nicely. Aimed at a reluctant reader the story should draw them in without the book being too long and offputting, which I think is the strength of the story. And it isn’t so short that you feel shortchanged either. All in all, it requires a lot of discipline to put across this kind of material in this format, and I think the author, Sam Enthoven has done it well. And I’d have thought that the story would have reasonably universal appeal, not being so male oriented as to be offputting for girls.
Pale is more challenging in some ways. The concept is a morally difficult one – would you rescue someone from death if it meant that they would be ostracised and hated? Even though you’d get to keep them. I’d expected this to be above Small’s level in some ways, but he preferred it, and we had some interesting discussions afterwards, so it definitely worked as a thought provoking novel. Again it’s strongly written but doesn’t feel contrived or shoehorned in, and I’d be very happy to look for other books for Small from this publisher and author.
Disclosure – books were sent free for purposes of review, and links above are affiliate.