It’s Bookanistas Thursday again. But, first, I’d like to congratulate fellow Bookanista Lisa Roecker on the birth of her new baby!!
If it weren’t 2 AM, I’d probably have come up with a way better congratulations picture, one that showed a crowd of a million cheering and stomping their feet while singing, Halleluiah, and perhaps playing the world’s biggest drum.* Childbirth is far harder than this picture suggests—I assure you. This is what you do when someone leaves you the last piece of cheesecake. So, ignore this lame picture and go to the next one.
Yay! Congratulations Lisa and family!!!
Check out Laura’s announcement HERE, where you can see a picture of the new little guy. He’s so freaking adorable.
And while you’re at it, check out what some of the other Bookanistas are up to today.
Now, on to my review.
I could kick myself for not getting this review out last week to go along with my giveaway. Because it was such a fabulous read, and I wanted to get everyone all psyched about this book just before its release, and I went and ruined everything by being a poor planner stupidhead. Excuse me while I go verbally flog myself.
Deep beneath a modern metropolis lies the Catacombs, a kingdom of remarkable rats of superior intellect. Following the Bloody Coup, the once peaceful democracy has become a dictatorship, ruled by decadent High Minister Killdeer and his vicious henchman Billycan, a former lab rat with a fondness for butchery. Three young orphan rats--brothers Vincent and Victor and a clever female named Clover--join forces with Billycan's archenemy, Juniper, and his maverick band of rebel rats as they plot to overthrow their oppressors and create a new city--Nightshade City. This impossible-to-put-down fantasy explores timeless themes of freedom, forgiveness, the bonds of family, and the power of love.
The coolest thing about this book was that while you never forget that the characters are rats, you actually sort of do. See, I have never liked rats. Something about the tail, I think. And maybe the plague. But while I was reading NIGHTSHADE CITY, I found myself wanting to hold one in my hand and pet its cute little tail, and maybe ask it over for dinner so I could give him a tiny plate with a tiny wedge of cheese and maybe a tiny tankard filled with a tiny amount of ale. It would be great fun to have an intelligent conversation with a rat that had a tiny little knife tucked into his tiny little belt.
See, this is how incredible Wagner’s rats are. They feel so real to me, so human. Just…smaller…and ratty. But I don’t lump them all together in my mind. Each of the rats has very distinct personalities and markings so that you quickly come to understand who each of the characters are without having to have them named—this in itself makes them seem more human and relatable. And so, too, does the story itself humanize the rats, as the story deals with some very common, but significant human themes and topics: good versus evil, love, friendship, family, honor, revenge, greed, suffering, and freedom.
And what a remarkable story, too. Fast paced and compelling. I was so caught up in it, flying through the pages, needing to know what was happening next. This is what I mean when I say that you sort of forget they’re just rats—because you think of them in sympathetic terms. You want the hero to triumph and the villain to get what’s coming to him. And when you read about some misfortune that has befallen one of them (such as a human rat trap), you feel so awful—and kind of guilty by association. You can’t help but invest your emotions in it, to root for the poor, downtrodden rats being sorely abused by the oppressive regime ruling their city. Your heart might even go out to the lowly earth worm, which is so mistreated.
All around, it’s just a great tale filled with tense moments, touching scenes, and some heart-thumping action. And did I mention there were some gruesome events in this? Totally creeptastic and awesome—just a few scenes where you sort of go, ewwww, but you lean in and read just a hair faster anyway (kind of like when Peter Pettigrew slices his own hand in HP?), but it’s not scary, just whoa. And that ending? Duuuuuuude! Wagner is so tricksy. Trust me, the kids will love this, but I think if you like a heartwarming, heroic tale, you’ll enjoy it as well.
NIGHTSHADE CITY is now available.
*This drum is at Purdue University. Just sayin'. Find a million people, and we’ll make it happen. I’m game.**
**Don’t listen to me. It’s now 3 AM. I say insane things at 3 AM. I don’t actually expect you to find a million people in order to congratulate Lisa. Don’t worry.