Thursday, 2 September 2010
Review: Gold Dust
Gold Dust is set in a town in Amazonian Brazil, and it’s alive with various Portuguese words and phrases (there’s a little glossary at the back as well). Inez and Maro’s world seemed so alive, the way their hometown of Serra Vazia fell apart with the arrival of garimpeiros felt so realistic and present. The settings were certainly realistic and vividly described, and I particularly liked the scene where Inez and Maro are in the rainforest in the dead of night: it was so well-written and toe-curlingly creepy, and probably one of my favourite scenes in the book.
The characters. Now then. The characters were a huge part in the book. They were the story. But there were so many of them, and each with their own story to tell, all so colourful and exciting, that Inez and Maro, who were supposedly were the main characters, weren’t as three-dimensional and well explored as they ought to be. They were likeable enough, and were the heroes of the story to a certain extent, but who were they? Maro liked football and Inez was studious and a devout Christian, but what else? They were total mysteries.
Such is the bad thing about having so many individual, unique characters (*gasp* too many interesting characters? who would have thought I’d ever say that?!). It was almost as if there wasn’t a main character at all, which isn’t so bad, just means that there isn’t one single person who we can follow through the book and relate to and really feel for. Father Ignatius and his war of words with Valmir Zoderer was particularly entertaining.
The idea is certainly unique. The last book I read about a gold rush was two years ago, and the last book I read set in South America was one year ago. Either I read very narrowly or there isn’t much English-Language childrens/teenage fiction out there set in South America. Which is a shame because it looks like an interesting sort of place.
And the plot is pretty individual, too. It was paced perfectly so that you could almost see Serra Vazia literally falling into the ground bit by bit as the miners dug everything up in their search for gold. It was sort of heart-warming, especially towards the end. The sense of community is almost nostalgic.
So, well, while it’s not the best Geraldine McCaughrean book I’ve read, it’s still a rewarding book and worth the read.