Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review - Heaven Eyes by David Almond (4.5 / 5 stars)

This is the second book by Almond that I have read; the first was Skellig.  I liked this book a lot but didn't think it was as good as Skellig.

Erin Law, January Carr and Mouse Gullane live in an orphanage and one night they decide to flee the orphanage on a raft.  They end up stuck in the muddy slime of the Black Middens and are found by a odd and scrawny girl named Heaven Eyes.   Heaven Eyes introduces them to a bleak and grimy world; an abandoned island full of empty warehouses and boxes of chocolates.  Heaven's only companion is Grampa, and old man who is either a saint or a devil.

This was a very interesting book.  As with Skellig, Almond makes this dankest of atmospheres seem somehow magical.  He has a penchant for finding magic in the bleakest of places.  The characters are engaging and believable and the surroundings described in such a way that you can picture every horrible smell and creeping shadow.

I enjoyed how Erin and her friends found a place that was apart from humanity in such nearness to their home.  It was actually somewhat inspiring how they found a sort of magic in the ugliest of places.  It makes you think about every abandoned building you pass and wonder what could be happening inside of it.

The questions around whether or not Grampa was Heaven Eye's savior or the murderer of her family really drove the plot forward and made the book incredibly hard to put done.  This was a book that was dark in its nature, but surprisingly filled with hope and magic.  It was a very complete story but a big ambiguous at times. 

I thought Skellig was set in a more realistic setting and, as such, I enjoyed that book a bit more.  The time in history this story is set in is fairly ambiguous and, as such, gives the whole story a somewhat fairy tale feel.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Almond's descriptive writing style and the way he finds beauty in the grimiest of settings.   I would recommend this book for all ages.  It is beautifully written and at points really makes you think about humanity and how we treat the undesirables in our lives.  I will definitely be checking out more of Almond's works in the future.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Heaven Eyes (Readers Circle) 

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