Monday, 25 May 2009

The Floating Island: The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme by Elizabeth Haydon

Are we really allowed to have this much fun while reading a book?

I loved following the adventures that started when 50 year young teenager Ven Polypheme sets out on an un-named sailing ship to undertake its final inspection before delivery to the client. After being attacked by pirates, Ven is rescued by a merrow (mermaid). Wait, how can Ven be a teenager if he's 50? He's a Nain, they are underground dwelling beings that age/mature about 4 times slower than humans. This in its self further adds to his adventures.

Ven has worked with his father, 11 brothers and 1 sister in the family ship building business for decades. He has apprenticed at each skill needed to build these ships, but has not found his calling. While on the Island of Serendair, he is imprisoned by the young King until he can tell him the story of his life. This story is all over the place, sort of like the pieces of the puzzles that the King favours so much. The King has rules for his puzzling: 1) Focus on what really is as opposed to what it seems to be 2) look at the details and the whole picture separately, you will see two different things 3) solving the puzzles teaches me how to think in the right way. His father is always telling Ven to A) remember your lessons B) use the jack-rule it will help you to see clearly. These two very different, yet very wise men both offer wisdom to Ven which helps him to grow throughout the story from the free living teenager to hint at the considerate and resourceful man and friend that he is in the process of becoming.

This is a fun story for kids and teens but it holds enough to keep the attention of adult readers. The character development brings them to life. I loved the many illustrations by Brett Helquist that are scattered throughout the text. You will definitely want to continue reading Ven's journal in "The Thief Queen's Daughter" and then in "The Dragon's Lair".

If you liked "Airborne" by Kenneth Oppel, then you will want to read this right away.

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