Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ChinAlive - Bob Jonas

Jonas, Bob. 2013. ChinAlive. Charleston: Vagabond Librarian Publishing.


I received this book from GoodreadsGiveaway.

Sets in China where the 2008 Olympics is being the biggest project for its government, the adventure of Charlie Evers begins. Charlie, a 12 years old American boy, has been living in China for years with his parents and has acquired to learn the local language fluently. To complete his school assignment, Charlie needs to do a research about the Yangtze River, therefore he surfs the internet using his father’s computer. After so many clicks and links, Charlie is stranded into a pro-democracy group chatroom, it’s a secret movement and obviously illegal in China. The ever curious Charlie asks questions that eventually will have him takes major part in the history of remaking China.

This book has a very interesting prologue, it starts with an ancient Chinese tell tales of how the Yangtze River is created. The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world. This river is going to be mentioned a lot through the novel, so you might want to check it out in the internet before reading the novel. You know, just so you get how magnificent and beautiful Yangtze River is, and probably your imagination can’t provide such beauty unless you really see the photo first (FYI, I didn’t check the river picture first and surely my poor imagination kind of ruined everything). I really feel it will be better if Bob Jonas put some pictures or even illustration, whatever, of the Yangtze River.

Reading the novel, I met a familiar writing pattern. Bob Jonas writes in a kind of similar way like Dan Brown. He uses a back-and-forth plot and not using first person point of view only, I always thought it’s a tricky way in writing and delivering a story but Dan Brown always pulls that off. In ChinAlive, the plot becomes really really complicated and shattered. And the using of omniscient point of view is not helping the story either. Not very neat in delivering the story, in my opinion though.

For the story idea itself, I like it okay. It’s not really as complex as I thought in the beginning of the book, but ChinAlive deals with China politic issue which could be sensitive and a bit controversial for Chinese people (I’m being a smartass now, ignore me) so I don’t see how it fits in the middle-school book or even children book shelf. In this novel, Jonas also plays with sophisticated technology and I was quite impressed by it. Unfortunately, the feeling went poofff several times when narrator decided to mention that those technology are just like what we can find in James Bond movie. It really kills the mood I guess, because the description and elaboration is really good and flowing and all, the images were pretty vivid and grand in my head, but when it said, “It was like something out of James Bond movie,” it flattened all my amazement.

What I found most interesting in reading ChinAlive were the tiny details on culture and habit of Chinese people and the description on how expatriate lives in China. The Yangtze River as a big part in the story is also a refreshing point. But, regrettably, there are still many typos found in this novel and they’re pretty inconvenient. All in all, ChinAlive is okay but sure could be way better.

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