Monday, February 08, 2010

Kate Thompson: Switchers

Picked this up on a whim at the library, hoping that the youth section would introduce me to more fun fantasy or science fiction that I missed when I was growing up. This seemed promising, if the cover quotes were anything to go by. Also, it was set in Ireland, which is always nice. But it was quite boring really. In fact, it's so disappointing I'm going to tell you all about it.

A girl called Tess has known from an early age that she could switch, i.e. become any animal she wanted. This is how she now spends any free time she has. She is an only child, her family moves around a lot, so she has become a loner. One day she is approached by a boy who is a Switcher too, and he claims that there is someone who wants to talk to them about the cold weather that is starting to threaten most of Europe with another ice age. Apparently they can help. They change into rats and travel to the country where an old biddy, who was a Switcher in her childhood, tells them that the cold is because the oil drilling in the Arctic have woken some dangerous beasts called Krools (incidentally, król means king in Polish. I'm just saying), who generate cold and destroy (eat) everything. Tess and Kevin travel north to combat the Krools, first as birds, then as polar bears. Then they realise that they can also change into animals they've never seen, so become mammoths and then DRAGONS and that's how they beat the Krools. Interspersed with this are scenes from the UN force out to combat the cold, who think that Kevin and Tess are part of the problem and try to kill them.

This is pretty much how it reads. Episode after episode plonked one after the other. No character development. No real pivotal moments. Nothing makes me care one iota about these people. Also, I don't even get a sense of Ireland. Very poor. I might have enjoyed this at the age of ten, but only in that mindless readreadread way one has at that age, not much more. How poor. And the cover quote compares it to The Golden Compass. Please. I didn't like the second and third books in that trilogy (also BORING), but The Golden Compass is fantastically imaginative and this is not. Not.

Thing is, it could have been better. With ten rewrites. Okay basic idea.

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