Tuesday, September 22, 2015

THAT Book - Into the River

Since I read THAT book over the weekend, I thought I should make my Wednesday book post about it.  The post is not called 'Books I Loved' like it usually is, because I didn't love this book.   But I still feel like it's worth talking about.

After all the controversy about this book, I had to read it to find out what was so damn awful readers can't be left to decide for themselves whether or not to read it. Having read it, I still don't know the answer. Yes, there is some sex. Some drugs. Some homosexuality. But nothing I haven't read in other young adult books. In fact, all these things are fairly minor parts of what isn't actually a great book.

There are several problems. To begin with, the time period remains murky. Kids have cell phones at the school, but Te Arepa's mother is in hospital with Tuberculosis. Life on the Coast is described so it feels like last century, while in the city, we're in the modern world. This does not reflect the reality of life on the East Coast.

But my main issue is with Te Arepa's lack of growth and passivity. He never makes anything happen. Things happen to him. Things happen around him, but he never drives any of the action himself. Therefore, he doesn't really change much through the course of the story.

Overall, I was disappointed with this book, both because it won an award and is very mediocre, and because all the hoo-ha about it is totally unfounded. But it's good news for the author because now tons of people will buy it when it gets back onto the shelves just to see what all the fuss is about. So the laugh's on you, Family First.

And because I always add it... Here's the blurb ( that really tells you very little about the book):

When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu to be exacted. Years later, far from the protection of whanau and ancestral land he finds new enemies. This time, with no-one to save him, there is a decision to be made.. he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river.


  1. Huh, so that's the book that's causing all the uproar. I've seen books that have sex, drugs, and gays get banned in the US, so maybe you guys are just catching up. Or maybe people are really strict about quality in their books so they don't want anyone reading something so mediocre.

  2. Hm. Well, I hadn't heard of this book (I've been busy) but I wonder what the fuss was about. Perhaps because it (appears to) use(s) Maori lore and legend? (The names sound that way). Huh! I'm off to read the reviews.