Thursday, 2 September 2010

Review: Gold Dust

Dear Blog,

Summary (from the blurb): Inez and her brother are amazed to find a huge hole being dug right outside the front door of their father's shop. Then suddenly more holes appear all over the main street and before long the cars can't use the road and everyone has to walk around balancing on planks of wood. It can only be a matter of time before the foundations give way and the whole town collapses. People are travelling from all over the country - the word on everyone's lips is GOLD. 

Review: I’m a pretty big fan of Geraldine McCaughrean, for this reason: I enjoyed her books when I was nine or ten, I like them now, and I’ll probably like them when I’ve been to university, when I’m married, when I’m an old lady, etc. etc. etc. Even though most of her books-for-young-people are suitable for 10+ or so, it’s impossible to outgrow them (that said, the only exception to this is The White Darkness and Cyrano, though classed on her website as an “adult” book, is shelved in “teenage” wherever I go. Anyway, it’s impossible to outgrow her books. Although most of them are about kids/teenagers, the writing style in way they’re written is quite mature, almost as if she were writing for herself. They’re written in such a poetic and flowing way that anybody could, and anybody should, read them.

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.

In Three Words: rewarding. South America!
Recommended for: 9-14 year olds, mostly, but I suppose anybody would enjoy it.
Rating: 3.


  1. this is boringggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg

  2. can you tell me who is the protagonist and something interesting about him\her?


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