Book Review: City of the Beasts

Okay, so I’m not the best at reviewing books, but here goes: I recently read Isabel Allende’s City of Beasts, a young adult novel. It’s about a young man who finds himself embroiled in the mysteries and perils of the Amazon rainforest.

To be honest, I found the whole book to be contrived, overdone and repetitive. Just my opinion.

In the first chapter, the young protagonist, Alex Cold, gets so mad that his mother has cancer that he smashes everything in his room. I guess this is his saying goodbye to the material world of America before discovering the spiritual world of the Amazon. Because, you know, that’s so deep.

In the next chapter, Alex is sent to live with his eccentric, world-exploring (how convenient) Grandmother who lives in New York City. Allende’s hatred of the Big Apple just freaking oozes from the pages. She must be from Boston or something.

The rest of the book finds Alex in the Amazon, accompanying his Grandmother on a trip to find the mysterious tribe of The People of The Mist. They are to be careful of a monstrous, bigfoot like entity that lives in the jungle, a creature known as The Beast. I love cryptozoology, and there is no legend of a bigfoot-like creature in the Amazon. If somebody can wiki me otherwise, please do.

Eventually, Alex is kidnapped by The People of the Mist. He instantly becomes one of the tribe, and starts working with them. Just like that. No segue at all.

Alex also carries his grandfather’s flute, which he uses to calm the wild animals, the aforementioned Beast, and even a gigantic albino bat. Seriously.

There’s also a shaman who makes an appearance from time to time, whenever a Deus Ex Shaman is needed. To tell you the truth, the magic and spirituality portrayed in the book gets so muddled, it’s hard to tell if you’re reading Stand By Me or Harry Potter.

I did like the ending, however. Allende brings it to a nice close. You just have to wade through a bunch of what-the? to get there. Anyway, just my opinion.

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