Reviews

Soonchild by Russell Hoban

maria_luciani's review

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adventurous emotional hopeful lighthearted mysterious reflective relaxing fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

Dreamy and wonderful

niksly1's review

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4.0

Very folktale-ish. Forgettable.

mirrorbug's review

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challenging emotional hopeful mysterious reflective relaxing medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes
My sister is a fantastic writer with great book recommendations and barely gave me a choice telling me to read this book at the start of the new year. Never have I ever been so confused about how to feel about the book. I didn't really have any overwhelming feelings reading the book but I felt like crying afterwards. I understood it but I also feel like I have absolutely no idea what happened. Yes, I enjoyed this book, but I feel so conflicted on how much I enjoyed it.
I don't understand prose, I just don't. It was hard for me to wrap my head around this book. This book's writing style and size make me think it's something quick to read and fast paced, but I think I should be examining every page.
I have a sneaking suspicion this book is best read repeatedly, like any good fairy tale or myth. 
I feel like this is a book to be read at least twice before I properly can give it a rating.

lucyblack's review

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3.0

I liked the blue pages, the white pages were a bit too spacey and the brownish pages were annoyingly nonsensical.

The blue pages are great though. Russell Hobans characters are very realistic and I like the strong female characters like the protaganists wife and daughter.

I guess it's kindof about the fear of bringing a child into this shit world aye?

ari_russ's review

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2.0

Probably the weirdest book I have ever read... Ever!

noodles01's review

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adventurous emotional funny inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.0

dianchie's review

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I am adding this book to my DNF shelf.

I really tried to like it but I just could not get past the names and the writing style.

The idea intrigued me but it was hard to get into the actual book. Even though it is a short book, every page felt like a hill I had to climb. It took the same level of effort for me to read this as it does my textbooks. That is not a good thing.

I may try again at a later date but for not it is a DNF.

backonthealex's review

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5.0

From the Publisher:
Somewhere in te Artic Circle, Sixteen-Face John, a shaman, learns that his first child, a soonchild, cannot hear the World Songs from her mother's womb. The World Songs are what inspire all newborns to come out into the world, and John must find them for her. But how? The answer takes him through many lifetimes and many shape-shifts, as well as encounters with beasts, demons and a mysterious benevolent owl spirit, Ukpika, who is linked to John's past...

My Thoughts:
In Soonchild, Russell Hoban has given us contemporary myth-making at its best. Based in part on Inuit mythology and in part on Hoban's incredible imagination, then perfectly complimented with the wonderful illustrations of Alexis Deacon, it is a concoction not to be missed - if you like myth-making that will take you on a journey away from time and space as you know them.

Sixteen-Face John is a shaman in the far north where it's "so cold that your nose hairs get still and your eyeballs get brittle and your face hurts and your hands will freeze if you leave them uncovered for too long."

Sixteen-Face John may have been a shaman, but he is afraid of everything and if he couldn't face his fear with one face, well, he had 15 others to choose from. Sixteen-Face John is married to No Problem, who is pregnant with their Soonchild (so called because it is soon to be born and be a child.) But Soonchild tells her father that she does not hear the World Songs in her mother's womb and so is unwilling to be born. Now, Sixteen-Face John must go on a journey to bring these songs back to her.

On his journey, Sixteen-Face John will become No-Face John, Three Times Dead John, he will shape-shift, and meet an idluitok, a bad-person gull who feeds the Master Song containing the all the World Songs to Yiwok the World Swallower, who wants to destroy the world by swallowing everything in it. But in the end, John, and the reader, sees the importance of our connection to our past, present and future.

Sound confusing? It actually isn't. Soonchild does require a little suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader, but that is true of all storytelling, isn't it? And you feel somehow renewed when you have finish it.

I found Soonchild to be funny, strange, beautiful, weird and satisfying all at the same time - sort of like the different aspects of the World Songs. And Sixteen-Face John, afraid of everything, must face the biggest most fearful thing of all - Yiwok the World Swallower - showing us that courage is really about being afraid but doing what is right regardless.

Interestingly, the pages change color each time the story moves forward. As you read, you might was to pay attention to why that is a part of the story. And do dwell on the excellent charcoal and pencil illustrations that add so much to the whole story.

I loved Soonchild but it probably isn't for everyone. It is supposed to be a YA book, but some critics have questioned that. I think that, like all good myths, it will appeal to YA readers as well as adults. It is most unfortunate the Russell Hoban passed away shortly after he finished this and one other book in 2011. Hoban was an American expat who had lived in London since 1969.

This book is recommended for readers 14+
This book was obtained from the publisher.

aprilbooksandwine's review

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4.0

You ever stumble on a book that you’ve heard nothing about, but immediately find yourself immensely attracted to? Soonchild by the late Russell Hoban was that book for me — the Patrick Ness blurb on the cover acting as a sort of siren call. Friends, this genius, slim little book evoked the same sort of feelings in me that The Alchemist and Life Of Pi did.

Read the rest of my review here link goes live 7/18/12