Review Blog

Jan 08 2016

Phoenix rising by Bryony Pearce

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Stripes Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9781847154507
(Age: Young adult) Highly recommended. Themes: Dystopian literature; Environmental issues; Piracy; Adventure. This is amazing! It is a cross between an environmental disaster story and Pirate adventure, with a teen hero discovering his own strengths, rising to overcome opposition while working on a risky salvage operation on the high seas. A blurb quote describes it as 'Junk-Punk'. Whatever the genre, it is an entertaining read.
A preface with clips of newspaper headlines gives some idea of the reasons this world is so different to our own. As an example of a dystopian futuristic world, it is unique and gives the reader a view into a disastrous view of the world following a major environmental disaster. The oceans are seething with 'junk', which is either a major shipping hazard or is being salvaged and repurposed in a new world where power sources cannot be relied upon, and those in power cannot be trusted. The pirates are out for themselves and will not let anything get in the way in their search for 'treasure'. The Phoenix is the vessel upon which Toby sails as a self-trained ship's engineer. His coming of age and his acceptance as a mature member of the crew comes after he attempts to rescue a ship stowaway from an attack from a rival pirate ship. There is a violent encounter, a potential romance and renewed respect from his own crew, and eventually the wounded vessel makes its way into further danger.
This book is full of drama, and is well-written. It will definitely be enjoyed by young adult readers. It is stirring, fast-paced and . . . there will be a sequel! Unusually for a YA book, there is no offensive language, and although there are violent encounters and sword fights which might be problematic on film for a young audience, in text this imagination limitation just makes the story spectacular.
Carolyn Hull

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