X Isle by Steve Augarde | Book review | Books | The Guardian

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Guardian review

X Isle by Steve Augarde reviewed by Patrick Ness:


X Isle is a strong tale, well told, if perhaps lacking quite enough incident to fill 477 pages. There are a number of easily remedied logical lapses - has no parent noticed that children never return from X Isle? - which teenagers, the closest readers on earth, aren't going to let him get away with. But the book does have a refreshingly optimistic hero in Baz, and a warm camaraderie develops among the X Isle refugees. It's a surprisingly upbeat story that boys should like.

Some boys, that is. X Isle has one big (if easily guessed) secret, so stop reading here if you don't want to know. Baz begins to feel a special protectiveness for the pretty-eyed Ray. There are hints of attraction - something the other boys mildly tease him about. But guess what? This very familiar situation is resolved as it has been since time immemorial: Ray turns out to have been a girl all along. Well, phew! Thank goodness we're all heterosexuals here, eh?

... ... Augarde is clearly a generous and big-hearted writer, so why not seek a more inventively subversive solution? How refreshing it would be for gay teens - and, incidentally, straight teens, too - to read a twist that reverses expectations in new ways, rather than the usual Shakespearean ones.

It's time, perhaps, for certain old plot devices to be buried with a fond, but firm, farewell.
PATRICK NESS

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on February 13, 2010 8:20 AM.

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