The Wild Beyond

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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.

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

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Author Interview – Piers Torday on his Last Wild series for YA SHOT

Published October 12, 2015 by bibliobeth

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Piers Torday

PIERS TORDAY – A BIOGRAPHY

Piers Torday’s bestselling first book, The Last Wild, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Award and nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal as well as numerous other awards. His second book,The Dark Wild won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. The third book in the trilogy, The Wild Beyond, will be published in 2015.

Born in Northumberland, where there are more animals than people, he now lives in London – where there are more animals than you might think…

Click on the books to get to their description on GoodReads!

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Interview with Piers Torday

I’d like to welcome Piers to bibliobeth today and thank him for his time in giving this interview.

1.) The Last Wild is the first book in your award-winning trilogy and features Kester, the modern day Doctor Dolittle, whose world is threatened by the disappearance of all the animals. What made you decide that Kester should only be able to talk to the animals and not the humans?

Since the Second World war we have seen an epic decline in biodiversity across the globe. Over 40% of species on earth are either extinct or are severely endangered. The reasons for this are multiple, from climate change, to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, to the spread of disease through global air travel – the list goes on. And the people who will have to ultimately deal with the consequences of a less diverse planet are the children of today. I felt that they were coming into a world where the many wonderful and unusual creatures – who not only share this planet with us, but are critical to its survival – had their needs completely overlooked by one dominant species.  I am not saying that animals had a “voice” before but perhaps there was more of a balance. So I wanted a hero who could connect with that sense of biological disenfranchisement. And, of course, who also often feels they don’t have a say in the direction of their lives? Children. I thought an ability to speak for an ignored majority but not to their shared adult overlords would provoke the sympathies of young readers for the natural world around them.

2.) In the second book, The Dark Wild, the animals decide to get their own back on a world that destroyed them. Do you have a soft spot for any animal character you have written in particular?

I have a soft spot for all my characters, and the animals probably were more fun to write because they are so colourful. I really enjoyed writing the White Pigeon because I have always loved that very silly British word-play, and yet he also surprised me with his heart and bravery. The Wolf Cub is very popular with readers and he was also fun because I think he is a bit like the showoff child I was! The whale was the most challenging – trying to find a poetic language that made sense, and was mysterious while remaining accessible to readers. And of course the Eagle – because he says so little! 🙂

3.) The final book in the trilogy, The Wild Beyond has recently been published with Kester facing the toughest challenge ever and coming up against some dastardly villains! What inspired you to write villains like Auntie Fenella, Selwyn Stone and Captain Skuldiss?

From my own childhood on, I have always enjoyed great villains – from Bond baddies to scary Tolkien wraiths and spiders – and wanted to give my readers the same satisfaction. But it is too easy to create a cod or arch villain who is only scary on the surface, and there is little enjoyable jeopardy to be gained from a perilous situation where the villain doesn’t pose a real threat. So I looked to the villains who scared me the most. Skuldiss, the most sinister of the lot, is inspired by the Child-Catcher from the film of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, only he is an animal catcher – but with the same psychotic glee. Fenella is my tribute to some of the great Disney movie villains like Cruella de Vil or Ursula from the Little Mermaid – vampish and over the top but also seriously nasty. Selwyn Stone was the hardest to write because he is ultimately deranged but he is a real complex person with an ambiguous moral centre. He believes genuinely he is doing the right thing, despite the vast destruction it causes. All I will say is that perhaps some recent notable political figures helped with that one!

4.) You are appearing at YA Shot in Uxbridge this year chairing a panel about nature as a character and concern in YA. Is it crucial for you as an author to get an important message across in your books?

I don’t really have a “message” as such, and don’t really like books which feel didactic or judgemental. But I think an enjoyable read is always about more than just the story. I have no particular view on which of the many proposed strategies to deal with climate change and mass extinction are the right ones, not being a scientist or politician – but I hope my readers are moved to think about the questions involved. Do animals have a right to conservation and protection? What would you be prepared to sacrifice to save the planet? Are there too many of us for a sustainable future on this planet? I think the role of landscape in fiction, in such a rapidly changing world, is going to be major when it comes to defining memory and experience and I think we’re going to have  a cracker of a discussion on this at YA shot.

5.) Do you believe that libraries still play an important role in inspiring young people to read?

Libraries are crucial civic spaces and should be cherished as such. In a hectic, screen dominated world, they offer vital opportunities for reflection and discovery. For some they might provide the only opportunity. It is librarians, and not algorithms, who can recommend books which might just possibly change the course of a child’s life, suggest that book which is a gateway to a lifetime’s journey  of knowledge and curiosity.

6.) Have there been any authors in particular that inspired you as a writer? How do you see the future of YA/MG fiction?

I have been inspired by so many – as a child, Roald Dahl, C S Lewis, Eva Ibbotson, T. H. White – and as an adult, J K Rowling, Patrick Ness and David Almond, to name but a few. Who knows what the direction of YA/MG fiction is, certainly not me. But what I do know is that without doubt it is the most exciting place to work in publishing at the moment. The best fiction for young people seems able to discuss big ideas, experiment with form, maintain narrative drive, AND actually sell books. Win win all round as far as the novel is concerned.

7.) Are you working on anything now and can you tell us a little bit about it?

I am working on a new book, a standalone, which comes out next autumn but it hasn’t been announced yet so I can’t say a thing – but I am very very excited and hope readers will be too.

Now for some quick-fire questions!

E book or real book?
Real book! E-books are good for reading on airplanes or in the dark but that’s about it.
Series or stand alone?
I think standalone – series are great, but people always have their favourite and one off books perhaps make the most impact?
Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction – I can never finish non-fiction books although I do enjoy them.
Online shopping or bookshop trawling?
Online shopping for instant gratification, bookshops for pleasureable discovery
Bookmarking or dog-earing?
Dog-earing!
Once again, a big thank you to Piers for his efforts in making this interview possible. All three books in the Last Wild series are out now and are available from all good book retailers.
Come visit bibliobeth again tomorrow where I will be reviewing the second book in The Last Wild series – The Dark Wild.
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