"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review: The Returning by Christine Hinwood

With the reading of The Returning by Christine Hinwood I have completed The Printz Award Book Challenge for the year. This book won a 2012 Printz for it's superb writing and imaginative plotting. Set in a by-gone non-magical era with a whole cast of characters living in the Uplands and the Lowlands.  When a war breaks out between the people of the two lands Cam answers the call to fight. But when he returns home his life isn't as he thought it would be.  Now what does he do?
Cam has a hunger, an always-hunger; it drives him from home, to war, from north to south. When he returns from war alone - all his fellow soldiers slain - suspicion swirls around him. He's damaged in body and soul, yet he rides a fine horse and speaks well of his foes. What has he witnessed? Where does his true allegiance lie? How will life unfold for his little sister, his closest friend, his betrothed, his community, and even the enemy Lord who maimed him?---from Goodreads
Though it is fairly easy to imagine this land from Hinwood's writing, the tale was very confusing to me.  There are so many characters and many with similar names. The use of "made up" words and phrases is confusing. What is the meaning? Often the only transition that indicated a time or setting change was a extra space on the page. What just happened and when did occur? The point-of-view is constantly changing at the same time. I think I spent 200 of the 300 pages trying to figure out what was happening before I could just get swept up in the story as it neared completion. Because of all these issues, this book will only get limited recommendations from me.  I know there are students who read fantasy and enjoy books about imaginary lands who will find a lot to like in this book. The average reader, however, will likely be too frustrated by the confusing aspects of the book to wade through it.

As I closed the book on the last page I had a very satisfied feeling. It was worth the effort to make my way through this imaginative and unique story.



  1. I hate to say it but it seems like books winning awards or even being nominated are sometimes not all that amazing. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to get it. ;)

    1. Jenny, I know what you mean. I really struggle with wanting to like award books even when I don't. I know that some of it is differences in taste, but other times, as with this book, I have no idea what the award committee was thinking. There are other times that I wish I'd taken more English Lit classes in college so that I would know how to read books for all the literary techniques that I don't know how to identify now.

      I still don't abandon the award books, though. I have found such fantastic literature while reading these books. Think: The Book Thief (Zusak); Looking for Alaska (Green); The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (Alexie). I'm not sure I would have known to read them without the recommendations that their awards gave them.


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