Isabel Allende is a well-established writer, with many highly regarded novels in her reportoire. However, City of the Beasts is not written for the crowd of usual literature-lovers, it is a tale of adventure for the young adult readers.
There are many legends about gods, and there are many legends about mythical words hidden in either the Himalayas or in the Amazon rainforest. Allende combines all these myths into athrilling story, that is also mostly written for younger readers.
City of the Beasts has three major pulls towards the book. 1. Adventure. 2. A relatable main character. And 2. Mysticism. The concept of mysticism is mostly fitted in the location, because the Amazon rainforest is an endless maze of possibilities. Unknown tribes, unknown animals, unknown dangers. All are used by Allende in a way that is completely believable, and makes you dream of adventures of your own. Travelling down the Amazon river and seeing meters long anacondas as well as swimming with dolphins is only something you can dream off.
And which child doesn’t dream at least once of going on a lifechanging adventure, finding ancient civilizations, and mastering magic? Well, the main character of City of the Beasts might seem a bit different in the beginning, but he will turn around pretty quickly. He’s just like everyone else, scared, cautious, but also really curious as he accepts that his whole life is turned upside down. His unwillingness to change in the beginning, and his perseverance in the end make him loveable and relatable. Both of which are important to a younger audience.
However, you don’t really read City of the Beasts for Alex, you read it for the pure fantasy and mysticism of an unknown world that is located right besides ours. And of course, for the monkey…
Those who enjoy Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and all other magical realism will finish this book within a day or two.
City of the Beasts
An ecological romance with a pulsing heart, equal parts Rider Haggard and Chico Buarque – one of the world’s greatest and most beloved storytellers broadens her style and reach with a Amazonian adventure story that will appeal to all ages.Fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold has the chance to take the trip of a lifetime.With his mother in hospital, too ill to look after him, Alex is sent out to his grandmother Kate – a fearless reporter with blue eyes as sharp as daggers’ points’. Kate is about to embark on an expedition to the dangerous, remote world of the Amazon rainforest, but rather than change her plans, she simply takes Alex along with her.
Isabel Allende. City of the Beasts / HarperCollins / 9780007146376