Monday, September 12, 2011

Death Cloud Review

Book talk: It's the summer of 1868 and Sherlock Holmes is about to encounter his first murder victim.  At first he doesn't believe Matty when he says that a black cloud rose from the dead man's body and moved against the wind, but then Sherlock finds another corpse and sees the same death cloud with his own eyes.  The local doctor thinks it's the plague--but Sherlock knows better.  Nobody will listen to a fourteen year old boy, so Sherlock starts his own investigations.  But soon he learns too much and although the local officials don't take him seriously, the criminals he's investigating think he's a serious threat--one that needs to be eliminated.

Rocks my socks: I enjoyed seeing such a famously confident man as an awkward young boy.  While it may be entertaining to imagine young Sherlock as a shorter version of the adult we're familiar with, I think there's much more to be gained from seeing him portrayed as more of an average teen.  Of course Sherlock could never be entirely average and he's still very intelligent in this  incarnation, but he hasn't yet mastered the application of that intelligence.  It makes it easier to relate to him as well as providing the valuable lesson that raw talent is not enough.  I enjoyed the elements that seemed supernatural but ended up having rational explanations.  The villain ended up being highly entertaining as well, but I won't spoil it by saying why.

Rocks in my socks: Just look at that cover--look at it!  Why in the world would they cast Justin Bieber in the role of Sherlock?  It may be a marketing ploy but I don't know who they think they're marketing this book to anyway.  There's a lot of action with very little romance and even less character development.  It's a much more classically male book than female and most teenage boys I know hate Beiber.  Yeah, I'm going to spell his name two different ways because I really don't care enough about him to look up the proper spelling.  Cover issues aside, the characters are pretty flat and the dialogue and narration felt a bit clunky at times.  Lane clearly spent a lot of time researching for the novel but sometimes these researched tidbits seem forced in and slow down the action.

Every book its reader: I'd give this to 6th grade and up looking for a fast-paced mystery.  Fans of Sherlock Holmes will also enjoy seeing this fairly faithful younger version that is the first of its kind to have the endorsement of the Conan Doyle estate.

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane.

Buy it or check it out today!

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