Where a writer/teacher mom and her middle-school aged son talk about books, good writing, and occasionally pudding.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Review of Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare, by Darren Shan
Shan, Darren. Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2000. Print.
Mom: What’s the hook of the story? What gets things started?
Dude: The back of the cover.
Mom: That’s not what I meant, although the cover on ours is pretty cool, all shiny and foil-embossed. What I meant was what’s the first important thing that happens?
Dude: One of the main character’s best friends steals a flyer from his brother. It’s for a freak show that’s coming to town.
Mom: My favorite act would’ve been the Snakeboy. What about you?
Dude: The Wolfman.
Mom: Like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this one’s also got a first person narrator. But this time, it’s the author, himself, like an autobiography. This confused me a little at first, actually, especially because he starts off by saying, “This is a true story.” Did this seem weird to you?
Dude: No, he’s just trying to get you interested.
Mom: Anyways, give an adjective or two to describe Darren Shan’s personality.
Mom: And for two other important characters:
Steve “Leopard” (Shan’s best friend): “Hot-headed and persistent”
Mr. Crepsley: “Modest and manipulative”
Mom: Except for the freak show, this town seemed like average Normalville. Could you even tell what country it took place in?
Dude: Yes, I think it’s probably Britain.
Mom: I can’t give too much of a spoiler here, but Darren makes a really, really bad decision that changes his life forever. If that leads us to a theme for this book, what would it be?
Dude: Suspense / horror.
Mom: No, that’s it’s genre, the type of book. What’s the writer’s main point?
Dude: Shan learns why you shouldn’t steal. There’s repercussions if you do.
Mom: This book is part of a series. Would you read the next ones? Why or why not?
Dude: I’d read the others. I liked the first one.
Mom: The story had some definite gross-out factors. I, for one, DO NOT LIKE SPIDERS!! Ugh. Gives me the shivers just thinking about one of the freak show acts. Did the gross stuff ever get to be too much for you? Do you think it’s more of a page-turner or turn-off for readers?
Dude: I don’t think it’s either of those, really.
Mom: I can touch my tongue to my nose. What’s your own personal freak show act?
Dude: Eating good food. Sleeping.
Mom: If I could make up my own new and improved freak show act, I’d be able to hypnotize people with my eyes. I saw a hypnotist show once, and it was EXCELLENT! If you could make up an act (like trapeze artist, lion tamer, etc.) what would you do?
Dude: Bring back the dead.
Mom: On a scale of 1-5 stars, how would you rate this book?
Mom: Last but not least, what flavor pudding would go best along with this book?
Final note: We’re reading a Preview Copy of THE GARDENER for our next review and we’ll have a special contest giveaway!