Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Lost Art by Simon Morden

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book. I had picked it up because my dad was reading it, we have similar reading tastes, and because the cover looked interesting. It was certainly worth the read.

The story begins by telling the stories of different parties, but brings them all together eventually. You meet Brother Va, a monk, and Elenya who follows him around. Va's brother monks have been murdered, his monastery burnt to the ground, and a dozen mysterious books have been taken. There's Benzamir, who has nothing, but is able to bluff his way into being given camels and other valuable things. Along the way, he meets Said, the servant of a sheikh's son, Wahir, a boy with a way with camels, and Alessandra, a woman who bargains with the diggers. All the characters come together to search for the books from Va's monastery.

The author didn't do much explaining about the back story of the book, and it was left to me to figure out. I read the summary on the inside flap after I'd read the book, and it made the book a lot clearer! At one point, one of the characters reads a sign in Arabic that says that it was written in the year 2987, so the story is set in the future of Earth. Benzamir is a descendant of those who left Earth, while people called the Users destroyed the Earth and knocked technology back to the dark ages. Benzamir attempts to disguise his technology at first, but eventually lets his companions in on the past as he knows it.

I enjoy figuring out a puzzle, so I kept at the book, especially since the characters were well written. I like books that play with history or predict what the future might be like, so I really enjoyed it. I thought the author's subtle social commentary about the Users and their destructive technology was a good point, and I appreciated it. There was some violence, but only what was necessary. On top of that, the main characters were very distressed when anyone was killed. There was a tiny bit of romance, but it wasn't the usual genre that I read! The book is labeled Young Adult, and I certainly agree with that categorization.

If you want a book that has plenty of action, is somewhat of a puzzle to figure out, and has an alternative history, you'd enjoy this book. If you want something that is modern and clear-cut, this is definitely not for you. I'd encourage you to go out of your way and read something a little different, however. This book is an excellent choice, and I would certainly recommend it!

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