Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cicada Summer, by Kate Constable

First published by Allen & Unwin in 2009

Cicada Summer is a middle-grade fiction book that explores friendship, family, grief and personal growth. Eloise, who hasn’t spoken since her mother died, is left with her grandmother Mo while her dad goes off to organise plans to turn the derelict family mansion into a new, modern convention centre. But Eloise develops a bond with the new house, and finds herself transported into another time, where she meets a ghostly girl associated with the house’s past.
The first half of Cicada Summer is promising; the introduced themes have great potential, the characters are engaging, the setting has a wonderful ghostly/atmospheric feel to it. But somewhere along the way this book lost me a little bit – I just feel that the story didn’t really go anywhere; it didn’t grab me emotionally and all the conflict was resolved in a kind of by-the-numbers way. There was nothing unexpected. Basically, I felt like I’d read the story before and knew how it would end. I would have perhaps liked to see something more done with the whole time-travelling concept and maybe just for Constable to go a little deeper with it all – with the issues raised (death, immigration, land re-development, family issues, imagination) and even with the language itself. The second half just didn’t live up to the promise of the first.
I don’t really know what else to say – I just think it needed something else. Everything about it was just nice but there was no depth to the words that were skimming the surface. Passive. That’s the word. It lulls you in but after that there’s nowhere else to go.

Basically an easy read if you want to pass an afternoon. I would like to read a few of Kate Constable’s other books, just to see if it was just this book or her writing style.

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