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Tom, Aylsham High School

The Stars at Oktober Bend

Book review of The Stars at Oktober Bend

I found this book exciting and imaginative although it was written in a peculiar format. The main character, Alice, was likeable because of her graceful use of words to suggest meaning. Writing in the first person conveyed depth in her personality and background, and it was interesting seeing the story through her unique opinion as the plot unfolded. I think it was realistic to give Alice flaws in her writing and thinking because it made her creative and unexpected. I did not associate with the character of Manny because he seemed quite dull and neutral throughout the events of the book. The way his diary entries were written were laborious and unstimulating. Although this is probably realistic for an African refugee speaking in English, it made his character bland and I felt it dragged out the plot too much.
It was difficult for me to always know what was happening, especially in Alice’s account, as I couldn’t always distinguish what was real or metaphor. It appeared too unrealistic in the way Alice and Manny suddenly started a relationship. The author effectively kept your interest by slowly revealing parts of Alice’s traumatic past which was disturbing yet moving. I liked the way the climax brought in all the important characters and how it resolved multiple issues. The very end of the book was well tied up and left a lasting impact of how courage and determination overcome adversity.
Setting this story in a decaying and redundant town played well with the characters’ dark backgrounds and need for change. I liked the way objects in the setting linked to the character’s lives such as the tombstone and disregarded sofa in the lily field which create inspiration for Alice. The author animated the environment really well, giving the story vivacity and a sense of adventure.
I enjoyed this book because of the poetic style of writing which at times conveys great elegance. The writer conjured believable ideas through flowing language and suggestive words. It was pleasing that, although the story was from very limited perspectives, the views and experiences of other characters were revealed which gave the plot complexity and depth.
The plot took time to gather pace, yet by the end I was engaged with the character’s situations and was intrigued to know how everything would be resolved. The book made you link back to its opening once you had finished, now fully understanding how Alice came to be in those circumstances. It was an optimistic ending for Alice which left you feeling satisfied and hopeful.
I think this book demonstrates the new ways of building a character by changing the syntax of writing and how it is laid out. Despite being intriguing, I would not recommend this book because of its misleading language which I do not think would be good for children perfecting their English and writing skills. The story was moving and sometimes touched the deep meanings of suffering and love, yet for me the novel is too abstract and separate from mainstream literature.

Posted on: 9th June 2017 at 12:16 pm

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