BOOK REVIEW: BLOODSTONE / AUTHOR: ALLAN BOROUGHS / PUBLISHER: MACMILLAN CHILDREN’S BOOK / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 1ST
According to his bio, Bloodstone author Allan Boroughs is a traveller with a passion for classic adventure stories. Bloodstone is his second novel, continuing the adventures of young India Bentley and her mentor Verity Brown as they travel a near-future Earth that has been drowned in a great flood, ‘tech-hunting’ for whatever old technology they can sell on the black market. His debut novel, Ironheart, was inspired by Boroughs’ travels to Siberia and Bloodstone apparently took him to the Antarctic. It also seems to have taken him to the movies because, coincidentally or not, most of his ideas have been lifted wholesale from some much better films.
After India and Verity arrive in Sing City, India is embroiled in an assassination attempt on a local Priest and discovers the ‘Bloodstone,’ an ancient artefact which, when reunited with its other two parts, will become a force of terrifying power.
Unfortunately, the sinister Lady Fang wants the Bloodstone too, and she is backed-up by a thug who drinks rats’ blood, a homicidal android with a speech impediment, and a robot Hellhound that has been programmed to track India all the way to the lost city of Atlantis where the Bloodstone will be activated, an awesome secret from the dawn of mankind will be revealed, and India Bentley will be confronted by a choice that will change her destiny forever.
Bloodstone moves at a terrific pace. It is well written, has some colourful characters and locations, and its target audience, presumably 12 years and upwards, will probably tear through it like a velociraptor at an ‘all the Sam Neill’s you can eat’ buffet.
Which is where it gets frustrating.
Although he’s a talented writer, Allan Boroughs’ novel ‘borrows’ from so many other well-known sources that even the youngest of readers will probably catch themselves thinking, “Hold on, haven’t I read / seen / heard / played this before?” There’s Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone, a shameless dialogue (ahem) ‘homage’ from The Empire Strikes Back and so many structural nods towards the classic Ray Harryhausen movies that reviewing this book made me want to stop reading and watch Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger instead. There’s also so much Jules Verne in here that Captain Nemo should be slapping Boroughs with a plagiarism suit.
More unforgivably than that, Bloodstone also feels like it’s been designed with both eyes on the film adaptation, which leaves what could have at least been a decent adventure yarn feeling mechanical and soulless. It’s a pity really. The character of India Bentley deserves better handling, just as her creator needs to conceal his inspirations more carefully.
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