Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: Wild Children by Richard Roberts

When it comes to books, most of them can be fit into certain genres easily. Others it is more difficult and complicated if it belongs into one or more genre or sub-genre. But for Wild Children, it is hard to put a finger on which genre(s) or sub-genres it belongs to. It is high fantasy yet has a degree of mystery and quirkiness not found in most literature today. It reminds me of Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas in that it is strangely beautiful.

The cover alone caught my interest. By the first page, I couldn't help to find myself smiling. It had such a distinct voice that I found myself unable to put it down (well I had to at some point because I had to go to bed but you get the idea). The voice of this particular character in Act One, Bray caused me to like her and want to know more about the world that she lived in. Everyone knows about the phrase "Oh he/she is a wild child" or the "wild children" coined for children who seemed to be raised by animals.

But no one to my knowledge actually used the phrase to describe an actual being. In Wild Children, children are bad; they punished and are turned into an animal which marked their crime. Wild Children also are young forever and even though they live much longer than humans but they will eventually die. Provided that they aren't killed by humans of course. Wild Children are enslaved and viewed as subhuman beings that are abused and mistreated.

This is justified by the fact that they are "demons" and are "evil", ultimately corrupting their owners with sin. It is dark at times but it is not too dark. It didn't sugarcoat the horrors that went on (and trust me they weren't the Disney kind) but it never went to another extreme where it was too graphic. While some might find the darker material unpleasant (which it is), in some ways it mirrors our world and its history. I saw a parallel between what the Nazis and the war crimes committed by the Japanese in World War 2.

Both felt justified morally in committing great atrocities and thought they were superior also having certain types of people grouped as subhuman races. And these “subhuman” races were the dregs of society and deserved to be enslaved and exterminated. These "subhuman" races were also considered stupid and inhuman and the Wild Children were viewed in the same way. Both the Wild Children and those deemed inferior by the Axis of Evil, were the scapegoats when anything went wrong. This parallel can be seen close to the end where there is a huge movement to rid the city of all its Wild Children.

The ending wasn't "gum drops and unicorns" where everyone lived happily ever after, it wasn't a tragedy either. In some ways, it was a bittersweet ending. Depending on how you looked at it, you can view in different ways. The ending itself shocked me-but in a good way. Nowadays there are many books that start off brilliantly but the ending is often quite disappointing.

But Wild Children on the other hand has an ending that I didn't see coming. Some questions are never answered in Wild Children and while it can be at times frustrating, it allows the reader to draw up their own conclusions. Are Wild Children really evil creatures or are they touched with some divinity such as the dove Wild Children who some believed look angelic? One reviewer talked about how the religious overtones were overbearing and preachy, I'd disagree. Theology was used and served as a huge influencing factor in the story but it never came across as trying to preach to the reader about religion.

If you tolerate and respect religion as a whole, I don't think you will have a problem with it. Being spiritual, I can honestly say that I have read some books where the religious beliefs/values so judgmental and preach about how their values are the best that it feels as if you are beaten over the head with a golden plated Bible while someone is yelling "Be gone Satan!"

Wild Children is quite thought provoking and leaves itself open for discussion. It makes you think without making you feel like an idiot, being bogged down in things that make it available to be understood by “elevated” and or cerebral people. Like what another reviewer said, each "act" is like a stand-alone short story but they are all tied together nicely. You are never confused or wondering why the acts were added in the first book. It built upon the story that you knew but you were hearing about it from each of the different characters.

The language itself wasn’t dumbed down but I didn’t have to reach for a thesaurus every time I read a paragraph. The dialogue was authentic and sounded like how children would speak. I never thought “This is another author trying to sound a kid.” It was intelligent without being convoluted. Like how certain types of music "speaks" to people and moves them while other types of music might some people hate or can try to appreciate what it contributed to society or its particular genre. The same can be held for books.

While Wild Children isn't for everyone's tastes, it certain has a market and an audience it is reaching. If anyone loves any book that is quirky or a little out there, with a mixing of imagination and creativity, then they should read Wild Children.

I would be looking forward for when I can buy the paperback copy and put it in my bookshelf.

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