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Max La Bouchardiere, Hardenhuish Reading Stags

Saint Death

Saint Death Book Review:

This novel, written by Marcus Sedgwick, transports us to the unseen reality of life in Mexico: in which drug cartels rule the underworld, where legislation is corrupt and where people scrape together their living to see another day. The only chance of advancement in life being join a gang, or escape across the border.

We follow Arturo; a teenager growing up in the impoverished, Mexican slum who tries to find his 'place' in society. An old, childhood friend returns to greet Arturo with a debt he must pay off; after taking money to be trafficked across the US/Mexican border. To enjoy a better future and new life, with his girlfriend and child, Arturo must gamble for his friend's freedom and life; against the street gangs of Mexico.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it encourages the reader to consider do the policies that we propose affect the lives of those in Mexico? The story provides many morals of friendship, as well as the ethical dilemmas in Saint Death. The hard-hitting realism is outstanding and the characterisation/setting strikes the imagination with vivid imagery attaching yourself to the story, itself.

Despite all the positives, I did find at times this book to contain a few negatives. I felt the whole 'Santa Muerte'/'Saint Death' element to be a little unnecessary and bizarre at times. Though, I do understand its portrayal to a street religion. Also the chapters are split with extracts from other texts, with many political quotations which eventually felt quite forced.

Overall, I felt invested in the plot of this book and the idea that it created, along with it. The execution wasn't as good as the initial concept; some parts felt incredibly rushed: especially the ending; though I suppose it was targeted at a younger audience meaning Sedgwick had to brush over the horrors. I enjoyed the anticipation and I could connect to the characters; which only good writers can achieve. Saint Death didn't immediately speak to me but eventually I got into it a bit more; creating a good yet gritty novel that I'd recommend to young teens. This allows for that demographic to appreciate the message that Saint Death conveys.

7/10

Posted on: 6th May 2018 at 01:54 pm

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