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There's always time for a book - In which I decide not to let a mad work week stop me posting
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In which I decide not to let a mad work week stop me posting
Frances Hardinge’s new book Gullstruck Island sat at the bottom of my new book pile (this is a rationed pile otherwise I would gobble them up too quickly) for longer than I had anticipated. I loved her two wildly different previous novels Fly by night and Verdigris deep and had heard good things about this new book. I vaguely suspect it was the whole island thing. Is it possible I still had Nation taking up the tropical island story slot in my mind and didn’t want to squish another book in yet? But anyway, when I finally read it on the weekend I was hooked.

Lots of weird and wonderful tribes live on Gullstruck Island, including the Lace who smile all the time and the colonialists who need land to accommodate their ever expanding graveyards. But the strangest people are the Lost, rare people who can move their senses around independently and as a result run lots of crucial services like exchanging news, weather forecasts and economic information. Hathin is a teenage girl who is a carer for her Lost sister, a role that is soon to become more demanding than ever as the cultures of Gullstruck collide.

Gullstruck Island is a very action packed adventure story. But there are lots of quieter moments that allow the reader to feel connected with Hathin and the other characters. I liked how honestly Hardinge dealt with the ambivalent feelings of love and frustration that can arise from caring for someone who needs lots of attention but is generally unresponsive in return. Familiar themes of the dangers of mob behaviour and revenge are treated in a sensitive and interesting way.

Hardinge has constructed a rich fantasy world that incorporates a wide assortment of customs from Earth but without making any of the cultures recognisable as a whole. Her language is similarly rich. I don’t usually stop during a first read of a story to admire phrases but as with her earlier books I was doing just that. And I think the bright red cover will be popular with children. I personally liked the insects that featured on some of the interior pages.

I’ve just realised the reason I haven’t read that many reviews of this book is that although it’s available on Amazon.com, it’s not actually released in the US yet – I think it’s going to be the renamed The Lost Conspiracy and come out in September.

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checkers65477 From: checkers65477 Date: April 3rd, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, it sounds great. I hope, if they change the title before we get it, they leave the cover alone. My hopes are not high, though. "They" are probably the same "they" who thought Americans are too dim to be able to pronounce "Verdigris."
emmaco From: emmaco Date: April 4th, 2009 08:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll be interested to hear what librarians and people with kids say about children's reactions to the book. It's long but well paced.

See comment below for answer on cover!
crowinator From: crowinator Date: April 3rd, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's so awesome that just after I read this post, I glance over at the books I have yet to review for Booklist, and The Lost Conspiracy is one of them!

And if the cover will be anything like the ARC, then yeah, they changed it a lot. It's very green and woodsy, with huge palm fronds, and there's a little boy or girl in the middle of the jungle-y palm trees holding a lantern and a birdcage.

I try not to read what other people thought of the book until I form my own opinion and write the review, but in this case, I hadn't realized it was the same book until later. But oh well -- I'm glad you liked it, and sounds like I probably will too. (c:
emmaco From: emmaco Date: April 4th, 2009 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Perhaps I should put up changed title warnings at the start of posts! I'll be interested to hear what you think - it's different again to her previous two books.

And thanks for the goss on the cover :)
crowinator From: crowinator Date: April 11th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I had to report back and say I really loved this book, and it inspired me to look for Hardinge's other books, so now I'm reading Well Witched. I love her use of language; she manages to write silly and literary at the same time, and her imagery is fantastic. (Though Lost Conspiracy didn't have a whole lot of the silly like Well Witched does so far.) I hope to write a review for my LJ eventually but I thought I'd tell you how much I enjoyed it. (c:
emmaco From: emmaco Date: April 13th, 2009 11:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for letting me know! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Silly and literary is a great way to describe her style.
lady_schrapnell From: lady_schrapnell Date: April 4th, 2009 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay! It's so nice not to be along raving about this book anymore! :)

I do have a problem with the cover though - I think it's fine for a younger book and one that's 'just' the adventure story it looks like, but it'll put off the older readers who SHOULD be grabbing the book. And it's been mostly shelved in YA around here, but when they put it out on "3 for 2" tables or the like, that's lost, and I don't think a teen in the world would pick it up unless a Hardinge fan already.
emmaco From: emmaco Date: April 4th, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I mainly ordered it so promptly because of your raving, so thank-you :)

Yes I see your point. I think children will also enjoy reading it but it's a pity there isn't a cover that could appeal to both age groups.
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