Saturday, February 14, 2009

Book Review: The Roar by Emma Clayton

The inside of the front cover summarizes the book as: "Mika lives in future London, behind The Wall, safe from The Animal Plague beyond. Or so he's been told. But ever since Ellie vanished a year ago, he's suspected his world may be built on secrets -and lies. When a mysterious organization starts recruiting mutant kids to compete in violent virtual reality games, Mika takes the chance to search for his twin sister - and the truth." Great description for a pretty wretched book.

The setup reminds me an awful lot of the Aeon Flux (Special Collector's Edition) movie in addition to Ender's Game which other people have mentioned. But the writing is clunky and heavy handed. Mika's parents are portrayed as clueless and self-centered. They quickly accepted the disappearance of their daughter, they believe everything they see on TV, they gobble up the 'vacation' their son wins for them without ever asking any questions. They are lemmings, doing whatever they are told to do by the government. The other adults are portrayed badly too: the school teacher, school principal, gym teacher, and nurse are all in league with the government that is lying to everyone about the state of the ecology beyond the wall and seeking to turn the children into slave warriors to fight machine wolves on the outside.

There is a heavy, un-subtle environmentalist sermon as the story progresses, along with heavy animal rights and human population control messages in addition to the evil or clueless portrayal of most adult characters. As other reviewers have mentioned, the book ends before the climax is even reached, so when the back cover says "will have fans crying out for a sequel", what they really mean is that the book is intentionally left unfinished so that you have to buy a second volume in order to finish the story.

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