Kester James

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YA SHOT REVIEW – The Wild Beyond (The Last Wild #3) – Piers Torday

Published October 14, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

FROM THE WINNER OF THE GUARDIAN CHILDREN’S FICTION PRIZE.

The final heart-stopping instalment of the bestselling, award-winning The Last Wild trilogy.

This is the story of a boy named Kester. He has brought the animals of his world back from the brink of disaster, and he believes there is hope on the other side. And, he might just be right, because:

1. The last blue whale on the planet is calling to him.

2. His animal allies are ready for one last fight.

3. Out there, somewhere, a brave mouse holds the key to the future…

What did I think?:

This is the last book in Piers Torday’s wonderful series The Last Wild and I’m pretty sad that it’s all come to an end as I’ve really enjoyed it. Ah well, that’s what re-reading is for I guess. I will also try and keep this review is as spoiler-free as possible but I really recommend reading the first two books in the series if you haven’t so far – you’ve missed a lot! When we meet Kester, our main character again in this novel, the tone is a little more melancholy than the previous two books. Kester is now surrounded by his friends, the loyal Polly and fiesty street-wise Aida, his slightly eccentric but well-meaning father and his faithful Wild, including Stag, Wolf, General and a very happy Rat.

However, the city of Premium has been left in tatters after suffering a flooding from the local river Ams and a mass extinction of animal life. It is only Kester’s group and a small number of other individuals that managed to survive and Kester isn’t filled with much hope for their future. In fact, the only hope for humanity is in Polly’s secret which was unearthed in the last novel and unfortunately, this secret now lies in the paws of Mouse who has completely disappeared. If she is in the hands of Selwyn Stone, the evil and misguided director “in charge” of Premium, Kester realises that he may never see her again and humanity will certainly be doomed.

To Kester’s surprise and delight, the Wild returns again in the form of a huge blue whale that is singing an ancient song with some wonderful news. It mentions that the key to life can be found on a remote desert island but it is unable to describe where the island might be. Enter the good old pigeons and a new friend called Eagle who doesn’t seem to have much of an opinion on anything but he is able to locate the island – hooray! However, the group go through many trials before they travel and even encounter a frightening new nemesis in one of Stone’s sidekicks, Auntie Fenella who is definitely not as sweet as that name suggests!

As with the previous two adventures, this is an action packed and exciting finale to the series that brings more new friends to chuckle at (the lizard is hilarious, “dude”), a bit of a twist to mess things up slightly and a beautiful but very bitter-sweet ending that I have to say brought a tear to my eye. Most reviews I’ve read of this book have also praised the ending and I’m so glad as it could go either way to be honest. It may not be all fairy-tale or happily ever after but it’s real and honest and I have more respect for the author for doing what he did rather than choosing perhaps what would have been the easier way out. The characters really got under my skin in this series and I started to care about what would happen to them – my absolute favourites had to be General the cockroach, the Mouse, the Toad, the Rat and the Lizard but they all have a certain quality to them that children (and adults!) will love. Oh please say you’ll do a spin off book featuring one of these characters, Piers?

For my review of The Last Wild, please click HERE.

For my review of The Dark Wild, please click HERE.

For my interview with Piers Torday, please click HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Come back to bibliobeth tomorrow where I will be interviewing YA Shot author Jane Elson on her fantastic new book, How To Fly With Broken Wings.

pierstoday

Piers Torday (lost in the wild?) image from http://www.guardian.com

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YA SHOT REVIEW – The Dark Wild (The Last Wild #2) – Piers Torday

Published October 13, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Twelve-year-old Kester thought he had discovered the last wild animals in the land. He thought his adventure was over. He was wrong.

Below the sparkling city of Premium, deep underground, a dark wild remains: animals who believe the time is right to rise up against their human enemies.

And soon Kester realises: he is the only one who can stop them.

Kester Jaynes saved the animals. Can he save the humans too?

What did I think?:

The Dark Wild is the second in Piers Torday’s excellent Last Wild series and for me it was just as gripping and exciting as the first novel. Our hero of the story is Kester, a twelve year old boy who cannot speak but manages to communicate with animals and this leads him to save the last few remaining species on the planet. In a dystopian future, a mysterious virus has swept the globe killing off the majority of animals while others were culled by humans for fear of infection. A mega corporation known as Facto and headed by the ambitious and determined Selwyn Stone now runs the world as he sees fit, manufacturing the world’s only food supply, the unappetising “formula.”

On his previous adventure, Kester meets a young girl called Polly who turns out to be the best friend he never had. In The Dark Wild though, Polly appears to be harbouring a dangerous secret. When she suddenly disappears along with his father whom he is trying to build a stronger bond with, Kester’s worst fears are immediately recognised. He has been hearing a strange but yet not unfamiliar whispering from the drains and when he goes underground to investigate he is shocked to find hundreds of animals plotting together in the biggest animal revolution ever. Their plan? To take back the world they believe is rightfully theirs and to fight against the humans who destroyed them.

Kester must use his gift for animal communication in all the right ways if he is going to save the world, his friends and family and, of course, the animals. He will come across many more challenges in his effort, one of whom is the leader of the opposition, Dagger an aggressive white dog with metal teeth, a thirst for revenge, a bad attitude and a serious grudge against humanity! In the midst of all this chaos, Kester also manages to make a few new friends (animal and human) and he will definitely need all their help too if Dagger’s plan is to be thwarted and Polly and his father rescued.

This novel won The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2014 and now I’ve read it, I must pronounce it a very deserving winner! I enjoyed the fact that it was a completely separate adventure for Kester and the gang although it still had connections to the first book. Again, we have the adorable animal characters and I loved them all, even the villain of the piece, Dagger who just fascinated me with his metal teeth. Then we have the return of The Stag and Wolf-Cub, the latter being the size of a fully grown wolf now but is still as excitable as ever, especially when it’s something he feels he can be “the best” at! The two creatures that really touched me in this book were the Mouse who does her own little random dance to illustrate how she is feeling i.e. The Dance Of The Flying Metal Machine which apparently features a lot of spinning. Of course it does! The second is a new character for the series and quite possibly the most miserable Rat in the world who helps Kester navigate his way underground as long as he promises to be his friend and never leave him. Aw.

For me, this series keeps getting better. The Dark Wild builds on the strength of the last novel and it seems the author’s imagination knows no bounds as he takes us on a journey which is slightly darker than the previous book but greatly satisfying in its conclusion. I appreciated everything the author was trying to get across with important underlying elements like the environment, animal extinction and animal cruelty whilst also stressing the importance of friendship, loyalty and family throughout. Yes, at times it may seem a bit fantastical and you may have to suspend your disbelief but it’s a children’s book. Of course there should be magic, adventure, exaggeration and dastardly villains, that’s what makes young adult or any other young fiction so exciting. It’s also why I’m jumping up and down in anticipation of the final book!

Visit bibliobeth tomorrow for my review of the final book in The Last Wild trilogy – The Wild Beyond.

For my first review of The Last Wild, please click HERE

For my interview with Piers Torday, please click HERE

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0