Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A Boy and a Bear In A Boat (MG)

A Boy and a Bear In a Boat. Dave Shelton. 2012. Random House. 304 pages. 

"Welcome aboard," said the bear, standing and turning to face the boy. He had been holding the boat steady as the boy got in.

What a strange little novel. Perhaps I wanted it to mean something, or to obviously mean something. OR I wanted it to mean something positive and uplifting and hopeful. Not to "mean something" in the way that Jude the Obscure or Animal Farm "means" something. But I do know I definitely wanted it to have an actual ending.

The boy has apparently hired the Bear to row him somewhere. Readers aren't sure how or why or where. The two set off to get there--wherever there is. But their destination remains uncertain, surrounded by the sea and only the sea, always only the sea, the two seem hopelessly lost. The boy does ask the bear, the captain, if he is lost. But since the bear has a map--or two maps--all blue, all the sea with no landmarks--the boy begrudgingly perhaps has to accept the bear's answer: no, of course, he's not lost. The two use up the last of their provisions, and wild storms come and go. Their fate remains uncertain, obstacles arise, dangers are survived, manners are improved upon, hopes are dashed. But still their survival seems threatened. The ending is horribly unsatisfying.

I did not care for this one at all.

Read A Boy and a Bear In a Boat
  • If you are looking for an adventure-survival story with no resolution
  • If you enjoy quirky books
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
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  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
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  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
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  • fantasy
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I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
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  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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