Another "teen reader" type book, I've read that the basis for it is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. If true, the times they are a'changin. I guess sort of like ole Huck this kid does go wandering off on an adventure with an older slave in tow and they face some hazards, but this one has tons of action and violence to tell the story. In the end it's really about finding kindness in your heart but getting there takes some brutal bloodshed and death. Learning about bigotry, death and compassion along the way makes the tale more about the journey than the destination really.
I found it pretty gripping and enveloping actually. The characters are well-developed and the adventures come fast and furious. The world that is built is very interesting, full of a lot of different types of people who worship and live in all sorts of different way. Some peaceful, some violent, some religious but all believable. In addition to all the violence there is some humor, enough to lighten up things when they get too heavy. A few nice twists and turns along the way kept me guessing. And then something I really want out of a book... a very satisfying ending. In fact I had to smile at the whole last couple of chapters. Well done.
I can see teens eating this up but I assure you that adults will enjoy this as well. Darren Shan is no Mark Twain, but who is? Darren Shan is fully capable of writing a very interesting and fun book though I will say, and he's done just that. One of my favorites this year. Good story, good message, good read.