For work, I really should read more junior fiction and YA books, but I don’t always make time for them. At nearly 50 yrs of age, I am not the target audience for these books and I find reading grown-up books so much more satisfying and relevant.
But when I do make the time (i.e. for Dewey’s 24 hr readathon) to read some JF and YA titles I am always pleasantly surprised.
Yes, they’re quick and easy to digest and they usually focus on teen issues, but the stories, the characters and the writing can be tremendous.
In the case of River of Ink: Genesis by Helen Dennis we have a fast-paced story with lots of diversity (deaf brother, OCD mum, dead dad and a missing boy who has no memories), okay so maybe a little bit too much diversity, but somehow it kind of works and doesn’t feel too obvious.
There’s a whole lot of stuff do with alchemy and the elixir of immortality and an ouroboros which is interesting. The mystery elements are suspenseful enough to keep you turning the pages quickly to find out what happens next.
There are interesting black and white photographs between the chapters that provide some clues and information for the curious. And there are lots of great descriptions of London as they move around the city. Dennis blends a fascinating mix of history, philosophy and futuristic ideas.
The adult reader is required to take a few leaps of faith to accept the direction the story ends up taking. A leap of faith that the adult characters in the story make a little too quickly and too easily to this adult readers mind.
I will finish with the Seneca quote which Dennis prefaces her story because it spoke to me. Our youngest booklet is unable to comprehend how Mr Books and I managed to have a happy childhood without a mobile phone. He is genuinely puzzled to know how on earth we arranged to meet our friends or go anywhere without a mobile phone!
The time will come when diligent research over long periods will bring to light things which now lie hidden. A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the investigation of so vast a subject…And so this knowledge will be unfolded only through successive ages. There will come a time when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them…Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been effaced. (Natural Questions)
Book 2 – Zenith – is due out in Australia in June.
Recommended for mature 11+ readers