I had a very strange experience recently. I’ve been re-reading Diana Wynne Jones’s book, in order to write them up for my Official Read-through Index (which, erm, hasn’t been updated in awhile). So I read Homeward Bounders, which is utterly tragic and well-written and yet I don’t love it as much as some of her other books. Then a few days later I started Mister Monday, the first in the Keys of the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. As I was reading along I began to notice certain similarities. Both feature young boys, of about the same age, who are challenged to take up something larger than themselves, oversetting a shadowy group which is controlling (to some extent) Earth. Both are separated from their families, although the end results are quite different. And then there’s the really weird one(slight spoiler alert): both books figure Prometheus as a helper of the main character, although he is not specifically named in either (just surrounded with really, really significant clues).
Is it me, or is that just slightly bizarre?
Actual reviews of the books: As I said above, Homeward Bounders is, in my opinion, utterly tragic and although it’s about a twelve-year-old feels like a much older read. Of course, this makes sense given Jamie’s experiences and the difference between his personal timeline and the rest of the world. I appreciate it, but for some unknown reason it’s just not my favorite.
Mister Monday is much more squarely in the younger group. I found it engaging and fast-moving, but wasn’t wowed by the prose or all of the characterizations as an adult reader. I know it’s the first in a series (which I will probably keep reading) but it felt like it was setting up a lot for the future. I did find the way Nix handled the end really interesting–what Arthur’s decisions and motivations are. It seemed a little more realistic than some children’s fantasy series. I was also interested in the overlap of the different mythologies. Arthur Penhaligon seems quite close to Arthur Pendragon, and with the image of the key as a sword it’s hard not to think of that group of legends.
Book source: public library