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Review: The Wikkeling July 14, 2011

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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Henrietta lives in a world where houses are made of plastic, roads are always gridlocked and children are monitored by cell phone and camera every second of every day. She struggles to keep from daydreaming in a school where everyone is focused on the next exam, but her life begins to change when she finds a wounded cat in her attic. With the help of two other children from her school, she learns about a whole world that used to exist, and strange animals that once roamed the earth. But a mysterious creature called the Wikkeling is going around hurting children, including her friends. How will Henrietta escape and defeat the Wikkeling?

This book is a great combination of science fiction, adventure and mystery. The pages from the ancient Bestiary that Henrietta and her friends read are reproduced as part of the book, and children will enjoy looking at the strange pictures and deciphering the wobbly handwriting. Unlike other children’s books set in the future, there is no oppressive government making decisions for everyone, in the style of The Giver. However, pressure to keep up with technology and follow societal norms is clearly depicted. I found a few parts of the world-building to be heavy handed, such as the constant advertisements and ‘RedAlert’ messages. In contrast, the scene when computers start to break down during an important standardized test was very accurate and I felt a lot of sympathy for the teacher!

In the end, it seemed that there were still some loose ends to the story. Why have the two scientists Henrift and Andi been remembered only as one man? Why are people forbidden to visit the Library where Rose lives and how did her parents find it? I had more questions about the world these characters live in, and how it came to be. This book will inevitably be compared to Coraline, another tale of a girl who finds a secret in an old house and is aided by a cat. The Wikkeling isn’t as creepy or succint as Coraline, but students who like mysteries and scary books will find it a fun read.

The Wikkeling, by Steven Arntson. Published 2011. Ages 8ish and up.

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