Generally when I go to a writing con, I try to read as many of the participants’ books as possible before I go. I didn’t read any of Debora Abela‘s books pre-con, because she’s best known for “Max Remy Super-Spy”, which is too young even for me (my reading level is about 9 and up 🙂 ).
But then she opened her comments by saying, “All kids’ writers face the problem of what to do with the parents. In Grimsdon it was very simple – I killed them.”
Naturally, that meant I had to read it. As a bonus, it’s set in a flooded city, and is written for a slightly older age group than her other books.
I was right to be excited: the world is haunting and brilliant (I especially loved the underwater scenes), and the obvious Global Warming theme is brought up without massive preaching.
The characters and writing style are great too, with plenty of tension between the young protagonists.
There’s just one problem: the plot. The book survives on the Rule of Cool – implausibility in fiction is fine as long as it creates a truly awesome situation or world – but the resolution completely backs off from coolness to good sense. Worst of all, it makes 90% of what the characters have been through utterly pointless.
I think non-writers would be a lot less sensitive to this flaw – at worst, they’d feel mildly disappointed by the ending. But it was a real shame all the same.
The book is winning a whole bunch of awards all the same.
Right now I’m re-re-re-reading one of the “Samurai Kids” series by Sandy Fussell, which is aimed at around 9-year olds while simultaneously being one of the best (even the most literary*) series I have ever read.
*without ever being boring.