Monday, July 28, 2008

The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson

[description from the jacket flap]

The Explosionist: Someone sets off a bomb outside fifteen-year-old Sophie's boarding school, but no one can figure out who.

The Medium: Soothsayers and séance leaders are regular guests at her great-aunt's house in Scotland, but only one delivers a terrifying prophecy, directed at Sophie herself.

The Murder: When the medium is found dead, Sophie and her friend Mikael know they must get to the bottom of these three mysteries in order to save themselves—even as the fate of all Europe hangs in the balance.

Set in a time of subversive politics, homegrown terrorism, and rapidly changing alliances, The Explosionist is an extraordinarily accomplished debut novel for teens that delivers a glimpse of the world as it might have been—had one moment in history been altered.


I knew The Explosionist would be good after reading the first chapter that was all about dynamite and explosions. Stupid reason, I know, but what can I say? Dynamite is exciting.

But the dynamite wasn't the only good thing about the book. Sophie, the main character, dealt with the many, many, events in a good way. I've read some books where the main character doesn't want help solving his/her problems or doesn't want to do any work at all or stand up for themselves so he/she just goes along with everyone else says, but such was not the case with Sophie. She actually had people help her but still managed do some work and have input too.

I think what really made the book work was the setting. I loved the setting. How could one not love a book set in alternate universe 1930s Scotland where the country is on the brink of war all because of politics and a single day's events? And where technology and psychics are put into play? (Not like computers technology and telling the future psychic, but electric cookers technology and talking to spirits psychics.) I don't think the book would have been as great if it was set in another place or time, or even in the real universe. Jenny Davidson really did a good job making the alternate universe and incorporating it in the story.

But I have a couple complaints. One being that it seemed as though there was too much going on. There was the talking to spirits stuff, Sophie's crush on her teacher, the explosions, the murder of a medium (the murder was one of the high points of the book. Adds a whole lot of mystery to the overall story), the "school" place that turns girls into zombies, the country being near war, and so much more. It was all exciting and interesting, but there was just too much of it. It hurt my brain slightly.

The other the complaint would be: WHERE IS THE SEQUEL? Seriously. One of the characters dropped a bomb (no pun intended) 30-40 pages before the end, and then the book stopped a really really good part. I want a sequel. Now.


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