One of the big questions is whether a book should be classified as children’s or YA and where the boundary lies. To a certain extent that boundary is very artificial as people are ready for the next level at different times, though it is useful to be able to direct a younger reader towards books that suit them. Mostly, children like to read about characters that are a little older than themselves, so where the protagonist is sixteen, the feeling amongst publishers is that the market is the 13–16 age group. Older than that and it becomes YA. That is not the only criterion, as most YA books also have an awakening interest in the opposite sex while keeping away from explicit sexuality.
This year’s Rubery Award for Independent and Self-published books has shown that there is a wealth of talent writing for the children’s and young adult market and a number of good books where the protagonist is sixteen. ‘Edison Blue’ is one of these and was shortlisted in that category. It begins in the future. Technology has advanced but youngsters still carry an equivalent of a smartphone.
Six years previously, the Entity has been discovered. No-one knew where it had come from, only that it had taken over the minds of local people and forced then to build a structure. The authorities decided it was a bad thing and decided to bomb it out of existence. A mistake, as the Entity started throwing bombs back. As the protective shield around the city begins to fail, Edison is thrust into a capsule by his mother, as the only way in which he can survive.
2,600 years later, his capsule is broken open and Edison emerges into a very changed world and has turned blue. The only thing he has from his previous life is F3, his intelligent smartphone. The world that Edison finds himself in is very different from the one he left, having a low technological basis.
Lexi, the girl who inadvertently released him from the capsule, survives by scavenging metal which she trades for food. He discovers that the Entity is still a serious threat, that his mother was released from her capsule twenty years before and travelled north and that there are monsters. He resolves to go in search of his mother, despite the length of time she has been gone, even though he is told that this is folly and he will be subsumed by the Entity.
The rest of the novel takes on an aspect of a fantasy adventure with Edison as the hero, the latent wizard facing the evil sorcerer. There is a lot of humour in the book and one of the things that will make it appeal to younger readers is the referencing of current media icons. An adult reader might wonder is Edison would actually know about them but in this case, it adds that connection to present and emphasises Edison’s difference from the place he finds himself in. It also adds to the charm of the book. F3 is another good character as a know-all counterpoint to an enthusiastic Edison and anchors him, helping him survive.
There are a few issues with the production of the book, with only a half-title page and not the usual full title page as well and the copyright page is not as complete as it might be but this is probably the fault of the setter rather than the author. The story itself is enjoyable and should catch and hold the attention of the younger reader.
(pub: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012. 293 page paperback. Price: £ 7.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-480-13627-1)
check out website: www.Jitland.blogspot.co.uk