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Sonali Bhasin

By Zizou Corder
Puffin, London, 2004, pp. 326, GBP 3.25

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 11 November 2005

Lionboy: The Chase is the second part of a trilogy revolving around a boy, Charlie Ashanti who works in a Floating Circus and can talk to cats. In The Chase, Charlie is running away in the company of six lions and one ancient Smilodon (a sabre-toothed lion that is technically extinct). His parents—scientists who have succeeded in finding a cure for asthma—have been kidnapped and the kidnapper is after Charlie now, along with Charlie’s master—the Liontrainer. Charlie and his lions travel across Europe to Venice where they are received as guests, but treated like prisoners—not allowed out of the beautiful palace they live in. With the help of some new friends and one very grumpy cat with a cockney accent, Charlie and the lions leave for Morocco, to meet Charlie’s parents who have escaped the brainwashing Corporacy Gated Village Community. Both Charlie and his parents are led by cats who relay information from one party to the other using a sort of telegraph service made up of cats in various European cities.   The first question people ask with a book like this is, ‘how is it different?’ In a world where books like Harry Potter and the His Dark Materials series reign, and every second book for children is sci-fi fantasy, what distinguishes this one from the rest?   The plot is confusing, and the characters are too many to keep track of. However, the book is a sequel to Lionboy, and had I read that first, I probably wouldn’t have spent most of my time looking back through the book to confirm names and events. While the writing is simple and plot slightly childish, the story touches on some darker issues like the disintegration of Venice and it’s corrupt Doge, drug and alcohol addictions and illegal genetic experimentation. The book has some similarities to Orwell’s 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in terms of the Government—in this case, the Corporacy that institutionalizes Charlie’s parents and brainwashes them, and Charlie runs away when faced with the threat of slavery.   The best part of the book in my opinion is the characterization of the cats—big and small. They have a variety of accents and personalities as complex as the humans in the book, perhaps even more so. While Lionboy: The Chase isn’t very memorable, it is a good read and ...

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