Monday, December 26, 2011

Boy Book Review - Revolver

RevolverRevolver by Marcus Sedgwick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Easy to tell why Revolver is highly honored. it's a thrilling historical story of adventure and survival for boys that girls and adults will also enjoy. It takes readers to a place most have never been before, the other side of the arctic circle. I spent some time in  took me right back.

We start in 1910 in Giron, Alaska inside a lonely cabin, with 14-year-old Sig and his father's corpse. The story question, what made his father, a veteran of the climate, try to cross the lake at a time and location where the ice was thinnest, and where he fell through and froze to death. The answer comes with a knock on the cabin door, and a man who has been chasing the family since they left Nome ten years earlier, looking for gold he claims Sig's father owed him, and that Sig knows does not exist.

The story moves back and forth between the events of 1899-1900 that sets a killer on the family’s trail, and 1910 when Sig has to face a man ready to kill for the gold he thinks the family has. We get a picture of the history of the Alaskan Gold Rush, where the only people who really made money after the original discovery were the service providers, saloons, and men like Sig's father who worked in an assay office. We learn about the Colt revolver in the lessons Sig’s father taught him about the way guns work and why they are sometimes the only answer to problems. We also learn lessons Sig's murdered mother tried to teach him, about Faith, Hope and Love. And finally, we learn the lesson Sig has to teach himself about survival as the boy struggles to save himself and his older sister from the invader killed his mother and intends to continue killing and raping until he finds the gold he believes this family living a subsistence life in the middle of emptiness has hidden.

The beauty, simplicity and total justice of the ending should appeal to young readers of all ages. Not to mention the real secret Sig's father worked hard to keep from taking to his grave with him.

Boy Book Reviews

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

The end of NaNo 2011

I am one tired writer.

BUT, thanks to NaNoWriMo- I managed to finish a damned book.  Leah is complete in draft format!!!

The LEAH story existed only inside my head on Nov. 1, I didn't even have an outline, just a vague idea about he girl and her family and their problems. 

Now I know, and I have a beginning, middle and end, all in 51,000 words.

Let the editing begin.

To be honest, I've been editing since about the mid-point. I changed the ideas a couple of times, and my inner editor screamed at me until I went back and fixed some of the issues. But I am now about to begin the wholesale edit.

Cast of Characters:

Leah Webster, aged 14, lives with her mother, Olivia Webster and older brother Jerome, an ex-gang member turned youth counselor (its a cliche, but only because it really does happen. And I needed him to have been in a gang.) At the beginning of the story she's in 8th grade, and just narced on her boyfriend when she discovers him selling drugs to the high school kids. By the end of the story she is a high school freshman. She is one of the two point of view characters, and needs to find out who is killing off witnesses to the fire that killed Madison Hammer ten years ago before the list of dead includes her brother, and maybe even herself.

Damani Ramsey, age 16, Leah's former boyfriend (before the drug arrest) begins the story in juvie, but returns and ends up back in school with Leah. He wants revenge, after all, he was only trying to raise money for his girlfriend. Besides, those weren't even real drugs, just placebos the doctor prescribed for his hypochondriac mother. Damani is the other point of view character, who quickly descovers that he has bigger problems than revenge on Leah if he is going to keep his family intact. Besides, underneath it all, he really wants to get the girl back.

Marcus Hammer, age 13, the son of the infamous George Hammer of Scorpion and Hammer fame. When Marcus was three, his older sister Madison died in a fire at a crack house where their father had taken her. Were she still alive, she would be 17. His father George has recently been released from prison, and Marcus lives with him, and hates him. Marcus is obsessed with fire and the idea of dying in a fire like his sister. When Leah is assigned to tutor Marcus, even Damani can see there's something between the two.

Anthony "Flake" Bradwell, Damaini's cousin and still a member of the gang. He testified against George Hammer at his trial, and now worries about his future after the man's release. He also councils Damani on the ways of revenge against Leah, the snitch.

George Hammer, deals with a rebellious son, the memory of a daughter he inadvertently killed, and the anger of the gang-leader who remains in prison for their crimes. Witnesses who survived the night of the fire been turning up dead since his release from prison.

Olivia Webster, Leah's mother, sunk into a deep depression after driving the car when her husband and younges son was killed, and her daughter critically injured. Now she finds herself falling for George Hammer and trying to find a way to tell her son and daughter that she too knows their secret.

Pastor Evan, anothe former gang member and a good friend of the Webster family, as well as the minister of hteir church. He is one of the few people who knows's Leagh's secret. He also testified against Mr. Hammer at his trial.

Jerome Webster, age 26, who left the gang after the death of his father and five-year old brother Terrell when he was sixteen to care for Leah, Terrell's twin, and his mother. He is under the protection of imprisoned gang general Tyrone "Scorpion" Johnson, so no one is allowed to do anything to him or any  member of his family. He is also a survivor of the fire. He Leah and Pastor Evan share a dark secret about that night.

As long as I've mentioned him, Scorpion Johnson spends the book in prison, but he still wields considerable power on the outside world. He's the villan whose hatred for George Hammer moves the story forward.

These are the main characters. We also have Latoya, a rival for Damani's affections, Martha Ramsey, Danmani's mother who has her own little problem, and Bakari, Damani's little brother.

Wish me luck.

BTW, I would love to hear about any other NaNo novels. Hope everyone who tried had a really productive month.