The Book Reviews – Website

August 30, 2009

City of the Beasts

City of the Beasts

Author: Isabel Allende

Page Length: 406

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Realistic Fiction     

PLOT SUMMARY: Alexander Cold is 15 years old when he finds himself being sent to New York City to go on an International Geographic expedition with his eccentric grandmother, Kate.  Although Alex dreads the trip, he must follow his parent’s wishes because his dad has to care for his mother as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Shortly after arriving in the depths of the Amazon territory, Alex becomes an active part of the expedition.

There are several colorful characters that belong to the group including a professor, a doctor, an entrepreneur, a missionary, a photographer, a writer (his grandmother), several soldiers and a guide.  The guide’s daughter, Nadia, is a young girl and she and Alex quickly become friends.

The goal of the expedition is to track down the Beast. He is believed to be over nine feet tall, very strong, and carries a very strong pungent odor. As the group moves through the heavy forest, an Indian tribe called the People of the Mist kidnaps Alex and Nadia. While with these invisible people, the two young people encounter some amazing adventures and experience some supernatural spiritual events.

Not only does a bond build between the two young people but also a bond is formed with the Indian tribe that allows Alex and Nadia to learn about their culture and values and the point of view of the primitive people towards the outside world.  When they are reunited with the other members of their party, they find that not all of the group can be trusted to befriend the People of the Mist.

REVIEW: When I began this book I did not think I was going to enjoy it.  The grandmother’s character is quite harsh and the setting of the Amazon did not entice my interest.  However, after just a few chapters, the characters of the book are developed and the adventure of being in the deep, unchartered land of primitive Indians began to captivate by interest.  As Alex and Nadia begin to spend time with the People of the Mist, they begin to experience supernatural powers, which seem unlikely but made believable by the author.  The search for the Beast, becomes an encounter with a prehistoric being that is similar to man but unchanged through evolution.

I think this would be an excellent class novel for both genders and any middle school to high school age student to read.   The mixture of fantasy and reality are captivating.  Student’s who like Harry Potter would enjoy this book.  I can invision this book being made into a movie.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Native Indians do not wear clothing, but there are only references to this as being a part of the culture. There is some graphic violence in the deaths of some of the characters (p. 354-356) but this also fits into the context of the story without being offensive.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Characters, Sequence of Events, Point of View, Fantasy vs. Reality

RELATED BOOKS: Kingdom of the Golden Dragon

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.webenglishteacher.com/lit-a.html

www.emints.org/ethemes/resources/S00001608.shtml

www.litplans.com/titles

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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4 Comments »

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