Last time I was at the bookstore, I decided to pick up another book by Isabel Allende, as I think that she’s an amazing author. I accidentally picked up one of her only YA novels instead of her more adult books.
Writing for a YA audience is an interesting change for Allende. Most of her books have to do with revolutions and the socio-political climate of South America (probably influenced by her uncle, Salvador Allende, a democratically elected Chilean Marxist later overthrown by the military), but this one had a different focus–the threat to indigenous peoples caused by development in the Amazon.
The book’s protagonist is Alexander Cold, a fifteen-year-old whose mother has cancer. During her treatment, Alexander is sent to stay with his grandmother, Kate Cold, a renowned wildlife journalist. She takes him with her on a trip to the Amazon, which is a traumatic change to a teenager used to living in modern America. In the Amazon, magic and shamanism are still real. Alex uncovers a mysterious plot by greedy developers and must do everything he can to stop it.
It was really interesting seeing how Allende wrote on this subject, considering that there were more yetis than oligarchs in this novel. Yes, I did say yetis. I thought that Allende did a decent job with this novel, although I’m not sure yet whether I’ll pick up the two sequels. I prefer her adult novels, but City of the Beasts was good for a YA audience, and far less depressing than her usual material.