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Sowmya Rajendran

IBOY
By Kevin Brooks
Penguin Books,, 2010, pp. 293, 299.00

THE MUD BABY; THE DEMON ON THE HILL
By Shanta Rameshwar Rao illustrations by Taposhi Ghoshal & Atanu Roy
Orient Blacksman, 2010, pp. 24, 95.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 11 NOVEMBER 2011

Tom Harvey is just your regular teen—he goes to school, has a crush on his childhood friend, and tries to get by life without stepping into too much trouble. But all that changes when an iPhone crashes into his head and he finds himself with superpowers he can barely begin to understand! iBoy is a coming of age novel that is entrenched in gang wars, drugs, rape, vengeance and the helplessness of ordinary citizens in the face of meaningless violence. There is also romance in the middle of all this sordidness—in fact, romance is what drives the plot and lends it a certain old world, chivalrous charm. Like many superheroes, Harvey's iBoy avatar too faces ethical dilemmas and is at times even frightened of his own powers—in these moments of self-debate, Brooks addresses several adolescent issues, including the all important peer pressure. Harvey's grandmother reminds one of the grandmother in Roald Dahl's The Witches—she's tough as nails and as refreshing an adult character as can be. When compared to the rather silly and candy floss romance in the Twilight series which has set the young adult world ablaze, the romance in iBoy between Harvey and Lucy is more genuine and has a touch of tenderness to it that is hard to dismiss. Where the book weakens though is at the climax. Brooks sets the stage up for a grand encounter between the superhero and the villains but the superhero's victory seems a tad easy and not really well-deserved. The narrative is fast paced enough but suffers from a lack of interesting twists and turns that could have turned it into an engaging thriller. As it stands, iBoy is a fairly entertaining read for adolescents who are looking for something new and sensible on their literary radar. The Mud Baby and The Demon on the Hill are both retellings of mythological stories in the picture book form. The first narrates the story of how Ganesha was made by Parvati from mud. The lovely and refreshing illustrations by Taposhi Ghoshal complement the verse that is mostly lively and interesting to read. Parvati is dressed like a tribal girl and Ganesha makes for an adorably plump mud baby. The vivid inclusion of the animals and birds of the forest in the story will capture the interest of children for sure. The Demon on the Hill makes no mention of ...


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