City of the Beasts (Alexander Cold Series #1)

( 65 )

Overview

When Alexander Cold's mother falls ill, the fifteen-year-old is sent to stay with his eccentric grandmother in New York. A tough and prickly magazine reporter, Kate Cold takes Alex along with her on an expedition to the Amazon to verify the existence of the fierce, gigantic, legendary creature known as the Beast. Joining them on their adventure are a celebrated anthropologist; a local guide and his daughter, Nadia; a doctor; and a local entrepreneur. But not everyone's intentions are pure?and dangerous ...

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Overview

When Alexander Cold's mother falls ill, the fifteen-year-old is sent to stay with his eccentric grandmother in New York. A tough and prickly magazine reporter, Kate Cold takes Alex along with her on an expedition to the Amazon to verify the existence of the fierce, gigantic, legendary creature known as the Beast. Joining them on their adventure are a celebrated anthropologist; a local guide and his daughter, Nadia; a doctor; and a local entrepreneur. But not everyone's intentions are pure—and dangerous discoveries await Alex and Nadia as they embark, with the aid of a jungle shaman, on an epic journey into the realm of the mythical Beasts of the Amazon.

City of the Beasts is the first book in an extraordinary trilogy by Isabel Allende, one of the world's most acclaimed authors.

When fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold accompanies his individualistic grandmother on an expedition to find a humanoid Beast in the Amazon, he experiences ancient wonders and a supernatural world as he tries to avert disaster for the Indians.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
New York Times bestselling novelist Isabel Allende tries her hand at writing for younger audiences in a thrill-seeking novel set in the Amazon rainforest.

After Alexander Cold's mother is stricken with cancer, his parents send the boy to stay with his gruff grandmother, Kate. A writer for International Geographic, Kate whisks Alex off to the Amazon, where she's to research a story about "a gigantic, possibly humanoid creature" that's celebrated in local mythology. With a group of explorers and doctors -- including the young Nadia -- they journey down the mystical Amazon, battling anacondas and other hazards. But when Alex and Nadia get recruited for a mission to save the People of the Mist, the visit brings the two face-to-face with a colony of Beasts, legendary creatures whose discovery has long been a goal for courageous adventurers.

Filled with the sights and sounds of a dangerous trip down the Amazon, City of the Beasts is the first in a trilogy. Allende's work will leave her fans anxious to learn more about threatened cultures and efforts to save the rainforest, in a fantasy that's both extraordinary and awe-inspiring. Matt Warner

Publishers Weekly
A 15-year-old accompanies his eccentric grandmother on a writing assignment in South America to search for a legendary nine-foot-tall "Beast." PW said the "action and outcome seem cleverly crafted to deliver the moral, but many readers will find the author's formula successful with its environmentalist theme, a pinch of the grotesque and a larger dose of magic." Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Allende's foray into young adult literature brings a heady dose of her personal brand of magical realism. A marvelous thread of cultural and environmental themes authenticates this National Geographic-like photoessay about the depths of the Amazon. Leaving his mother's grave illness behind, Alexander finds himself a key member of an international search party tracing a path to locate the Beast of the jungle. Grandmother Kate is suspect right from the outset, when she neither picks up her grandson at the airport nor nurtures him in any manner. She is a crusty caricature of herself, the ultra-feminist photographer. Dr. Torres presents an instructive lesson about recognizing evil. Teen friend, Nadia, is a wonderful partner for Alexander, a.k.a Jaguar. They lead this page-turner with proper judgment, fear, and correct impressions about the real motives of the adults and the natives. Scary adventures involve deaths, kidnapping, and the overpowering noxious odor of the nearby Beast, as the team wrestles with the People of the Mist and nature. Anthropological details are engrossing, the talented use of Spanish vocabulary does not need a glossary, and the mysterious taboos of the Amazon and the force of good and evil all contribute to this exciting fantastical survival tale. An outstanding leisure read, this title can also be recommended to complement social studies units on South America and environmental issues. PLB
— Nancy Zachary <%ISBN%>006050918X
From The Critics
Allende's debut young adult novel is packed with intense adventure and mystical elements. Alexander Cold finds himself on an adventure in the rainforest of the Amazon, where his grandmother is searching for the legendary beast that is terrorizing the native tribes. He forms a powerful friendship with Nadia, the daughter of another member of the expedition. Through his adventures in the rainforest, Alex grows as a person and comes to terms with problems he experienced at home. Suddenly, in the midst of life-and-death adventure, his everyday adolescent problems seem trivial. Not only does he gain a new perspective on his daily life, but also he learns to confront and manage the emotions he has concerning his mother's illness. Allende does an excellent job of capturing readers from the beginning. This fast-paced novel takes readers on Alex and Nadia's adventure with them, where they meet a variety of characters and encounter great mystery and intrigue. 2002, Harper Collins, 406 pp., Dail
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-In her first novel for younger readers (HarperCollins, 2002), Isabel Allende creates an authentic South American world, this time in the Amazon rain forest, and combines it with mythical realms of the imagination. California teen Alexander Cold embarks with his rather stern and prickly grandmother Kate, a writer, on a trek to locate a legendary Yeti-like Beast of the Amazon. An egotistical anthropologist, two photographers, and a guide with a teenage daughter fill out the official party. They are joined by a rich Amazon adventurer with villainous intentions and a doctor whose job supposedly is to carry protective vaccines to any native population. The story develops jungle and expedition details as well as cultural and economic conflicts with a mysterious People of the Mist very well. But the travels of the young people alone into the territory of the People as well as that of the giant Beasts are full of mysticism and fantastic happenings. Just when one twist of the plot seems to be reaching a resolution, two or three more arise, creating layer upon layer of incredible events. Narrator Blair Brown creates subtle voices and distinguishing accents for all the characters. Her rendering of unfamiliar native words is excellent, and this feature will be helpful to listeners who might come to a frustrated full stop at seeing the words in print. Her convincing reading is a real asset. A short appropriate musical passage plays at the beginning and ending of each side of the tape. The lengthy, complex plot may limit the audiobook's appeal. The story is noteworthy for its portrayal of the region and its problems, but unusual in its reliance on the supernatural and mystical. It will appeal to teens with an interest in the rain forest and a taste for the fantastic.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, Painted Post NY Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A moody American teen finds himself up the Amazon without a paddle in this aimlessly meandering and cliché-ridden fantasy. Alex's mother's struggle with cancer has forced him into the care of his grandmother, a writer for International Geographic magazine, which has mounted an expedition into the heart of the rainforest to observe the strange monsters known only as the Beasts. Predictably enough, the expedition team consists of a variety of types, including a beautiful doctor, a dashing guide and his mystical daughter Nadia, an egotistical anthropologist, a sinister Indian aide, and a number of expendable supernumeraries. After the requisite agonizing trip up the longest river in the world, Alex and Nadia are finally ushered by an ancient shaman into the Eye of the World. There they encounter the People of the Mist, a-surprise, surprise-pristine indigenous civilization, who have evolved a symbiotic relationship with their gods, the Beasts. The Beasts, it turns out, are gigantic sloths-leftovers from some prehistoric era that have by dint of their exceptionally slow metabolism and consequently long lives developed some intelligence and even rudimentary language. Alex and Nadia are rechristened for their totem animals (Jaguar and Eagle) and go on perilous spirit quests. The jacket blurb boasts that the novel is "teeming with magical realism"; leaving aside the question of whether magical realism can actually teem, this story, Allende's (Portrait in Sepia, 2001, etc.) first for children, does anything but. There are some fantastic touches, but most of what passes for magical realism seems introduced only for narrative convenience (such as Alex's sudden ability to transcend linguisticbarriers by "listening with his heart"). Other potentially fantastic elements are drearily reduced by pseudo-scientific explanation to the realm of the mundane (such as the true nature of the Beasts). The narrative as a whole suffers from extraordinarily labored language: " 'Remember whom you're speaking to, you little twerp,' the writer calmly interrupted, seizing him firmly by the shirt and paralyzing him with the glare of her fearsome blue eyes." Whether this is the fault of the original writing or the translation from the Spanish is immaterial; this flaw, combined with the general pointlessness of the plot, makes this offering-all 416 pages of it-an excruciating experience. (Fiction. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061825118
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/3/2009
  • Series: Alexander Cold Series , #1
  • Pages: 406
  • Sales rank: 672,632
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Isabel Allende is the author of twelve works of fiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Maya’s Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, Inés of My Soul, Daughter of Fortune, and a novel that has become a world-renowned classic, The House of the Spirits. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.

Biography

In Isabel Allende's books, human beings do not exist merely in the three-dimensional sense. They can exert themselves as memory, as destiny, as spirits without form, as fairy tales. Just as the more mystical elements of Allende's past have shaped her work, so has the hard-bitten reality. Working as a journalist in Chile, Allende was forced to flee the country with her family after her uncle, President Salvador Allende, was killed in a coup in 1973.

Out of letters to family back in Chile came the manuscript that was to become Allende's first novel. Her arrival on the publishing scene in 1985 with The House of the Spirits was instantly recognized as a literary event. The New York Times called it "a unique achievement, both personal witness and possible allegory of the past, present and future of Latin America."

To read a book by Allende is to believe in (or be persuaded of) the power of transcendence, spiritual and otherwise. Her characters are often what she calls "marginal," those who strive to live on the fringes of society. It may be someone like Of Love and Shadows 's Hipolito Ranquileo, who makes his living as a circus clown; or Eva Luna, a poor orphan who is the center of two Allende books (Eva Luna and The Stories of Eva Luna).

Allende's characters have in common an inner fortitude that proves stronger than their adversity, and a sense of lineage that propels them both forward and backward. When you meet a central character in an Allende novel, be prepared to meet a few generations of his or her family. This multigenerational thread drives The House of the Spirits, the tale of the South American Trueba family. Not only did the novel draw Allende critical accolades (with such breathless raves as "spectacular," "astonishing" and "mesmerizing" from major reviewers), it landed her firmly in the magic realist tradition of predecessor (and acknowledged influence) Gabriel García Márquez. Some of its characters also reappeared in the historical novels Portrait in Sepia and Daughter of Fortune.

"It's strange that my work has been classified as magic realism," Allende has said, "because I see my novels as just being realistic literature." Indeed, much of what might be considered "magic" to others is real to Allende, who based the character Clara del Valle in The House of the Spirits on her own reputedly clairvoyant grandmother. And she has drawn as well upon the political violence that visited her life: Of Love and Shadows (1987) centers on a political crime in Chile, and other Allende books allude to the ideological divisions that affected the author so critically.

But all of her other work was "rehearsal," says Allende, for what she considers her most difficult and personal book. Paula is written for Allende's daughter, who died in 1992 after several months in a coma. Like Allende's fiction, it tells Paula's story through that of Allende's own and of her relatives. Allende again departed from fiction in Aphrodite, a book that pays homage to the romantic powers of food (complete with recipes for two such as "Reconciliation Soup"). The book's lighthearted subject matter had to have been a necessity for Allende, who could not write for nearly three years after the draining experience of writing Paula.

Whichever side of reality she is on, Allende's voice is unfailingly romantic and life-affirming, creating mystery even as she uncloaks it. Like a character in Of Love and Shadows, Allende tells "stories of her own invention whose aim [is] to ease suffering and make time pass more quickly," and she succeeds.

Good To Know

Allende has said that the character of Gregory Reeves in The Infinite Plan is based on her husband, Willie Gordon.

Allende begins all of her books on January 8, which she considers lucky because it was the day she began writing a letter to her dying grandfather that later became The House of the Spirits.

She began her career as a journalist, editing the magazine Paula and later contributing to the Venezuelan paper El Nacional.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Alexander Cold awakened at dawn, startled by a nightmare. He had been dreaming that an enormous black bird had crashed against the window with a clatter of shattered glass, flown into the house, and carried off his mother. In the dream, he watched helplessly as the gigantic vulture clasped Lisa Cold's clothing in its yellow claws, flew out the same broken window, and disappeared into a sky heavy with dark clouds. What had awakened him was the noise from the storm: wind lashing the trees, rain on the rooftop, and thunder.

He turned on the light with the sensation of being adrift in a boat, and pushed closer to the bulk of the large dog sleeping beside him. He pictured the roaring Pacific Ocean a few blocks from his house, spilling in furious waves against the cliffs. He lay listening to the storm and thinking about the black bird and about his mother, waiting for the pounding in his chest to die down. He was still tangled in the images of his bad dream.

Alexander looked at the clock: six-thirty, time to get up. Outside, it was beginning to get light. He decided that this was going to be a terrible day, one of those days when it's best to stay in bed because everything is going to turn out bad. There had been a lot of days like that since his mother got sick; sometimes the air in the house felt heavy, like being at the bottom of the sea. On those days, the only relief was to escape, to run along the beach with Poncho until he was out of breath. But it had been raining and raining for more than a week -- a real deluge -- and on top of that, Poncho had been bitten by a deer and didn't want to move. Alex was convinced that he had the dumbestdog in history, the only eighty-pound Labrador ever bitten by a deer. In the four years of his life, Poncho had been attacked by raccoons, the neighbor's cat, and now a deer -- not counting the times he had been sprayed by the skunks and they'd had to bathe him in tomato juice to get rid of the smell. Alex got out of bed without disturbing Poncho and got dressed, shivering; the heat came on at six, but it hadn't yet warmed his room, the one at the end of the hall.

At breakfast Alex was not in the mood to applaud his father's efforts at making pancakes. John Cold was not exactly a good cook; the only thing he knew how to do was pancakes, and they always turned out like rubber-tire tortillas. His children didn't want to hurt his feelings, so they pretended to eat them, but anytime he wasn't looking, they spit them out into the garbage pail. They had tried in vain to train Poncho to eat them: the dog was stupid, but not that stupid.

"When's Momma going to get better?" Nicole asked, trying to spear a rubbery pancake with her fork.

"Shut up, Nicole!" Alex replied, tired of hearing his younger sister ask the same question several times a week.

"Momma's going to die," Andrea added.

"Liar! She's not going to die!" shrieked Nicole.

"You two are just kids. You don't know what you're talking about!" Alex exclaimed.

"Here, girls. Quiet now. Momma is going to get better," John interrupted, without much conviction.

Alex was angry with his father, his sisters, Poncho, life in general -- even with his mother for getting sick. He rushed out of the kitchen, ready to leave without breakfast, but he tripped over the dog in the hallway and sprawled flat.

"Get out of my way, you stupid dog!" he yelled, and Poncho, delighted, gave him a loud slobbery kiss that left Alex's glasses spattered with saliva.

Yes, it was definitely one of those really bad days. Minutes later, his father discovered he had a flat tire on the van, and Alex had to help change it. They lost precious minutes and the three children were late getting to class. In the haste of leaving, Alex forgot his math homework. That did nothing to help his relationship with his teacher, whom Alex considered to be a pathetic little worm whose goal was to make his life miserable. As the last straw, he had also left his flute, and that afternoon he had orchestra practice; he was the soloist and couldn't miss the rehearsal.

 

The flute was the reason Alex had to leave during lunch to go back to the house. The storm had blown over but the sea was still rough and he couldn't take the short way along the beach road because the waves were crashing over the lip of the cliff and flooding the street. He took the long way, because he had only forty minutes.

For the last few weeks, ever since his mother got sick, a woman had come to clean, but that morning she had called to say that because of the storm she wouldn't be there. It didn't matter, she wasn't much help and the house was always dirty anyway. Even from outside, you could see the signs; it was as if the whole place was sad. The air of neglect began with the garden and spread through every room of the house, to the farthest corners.

Alex could feel his family coming apart. His sister Andrea, who had always been different from the other girls, was now more Andrea than ever; she was always dressing in costumes, and she wandered lost for hours in her fantasy world, where she imagined witches lurking in the mirrors and aliens swimming in her soup. She was too old for that. At twelve, Alex thought, she should be interested in boys, or piercing her ears. As for Nicole, the youngest in the family, she was collecting a zoo full of animals ...

City of the Beasts (Large Print). Copyright © by Isabel Allende. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

City of the Beasts

Chapter One

The Nightmare

Alexander Cold awakened at dawn, startled by a nightmare. He had been dreaming that an enormous black bird had crashed against the window with a clatter of shattered glass, flown into the house, and carried off his mother. In the dream, he watched helplessly as the gigantic vulture clasped Lisa Cold's clothing in its yellow claws, flew out the same broken window, and disappeared into a sky heavy with dark clouds. What had awakened him was the noise from the storm: wind lashing the trees, rain on the rooftop, and thunder.

He turned on the light with the sensation of being adrift in a boat, and pushed closer to the bulk of the large dog sleeping beside him. He pictured the roaring Pacific Ocean a few blocks from his house, spilling in furious waves against the cliffs. He lay listening to the storm and thinking about the black bird and about his mother, waiting for the pounding in his chest to die down. He was still tangled in the images of his bad dream.

Alexander looked at the clock: six-thirty, time to get up. Outside, it was beginning to get light. He decided that this was going to be a terrible day, one of those days when it's best to stay in bed because everything is going to turn out bad. There had been a lot of days like that since his mother got sick; sometimes the air in the house felt heavy, like being at the bottom of the sea. On those days, the only relief was to escape, to run along the beach with Poncho until he was out of breath. But it had been raining and raining for more than a week -- a real deluge -- and on top of that, Poncho had been bitten by a deer and didn't want to move. Alex was convinced that he had the dumbest dog in history, the only eighty-pound Labrador ever bitten by a deer. In the four years of his life, Poncho had been attacked by raccoons, the neighbor's cat, and now a deer -- not counting the times he had been sprayed by the skunks and they'd had to bathe him in tomato juice to get rid of the smell. Alex got out of bed without disturbing Poncho and got dressed, shivering; the heat came on at six, but it hadn't yet warmed his room, the one at the end of the hall.

At breakfast Alex was not in the mood to applaud his father's efforts at making pancakes. John Cold was not exactly a good cook; the only thing he knew how to do was pancakes, and they always turned out like rubber-tire tortillas. His children didn't want to hurt his feelings, so they pretended to eat them, but anytime he wasn't looking, they spit them out into the garbage pail. They had tried in vain to train Poncho to eat them: the dog was stupid, but not that stupid.

"When's Momma going to get better?" Nicole asked, trying to spear a rubbery pancake with her fork.

"Shut up, Nicole!" Alex replied, tired of hearing his younger sister ask the same question several times a week.

"Momma's going to die," Andrea added.

"Liar! She's not going to die!" shrieked Nicole.

"You two are just kids. You don't know what you're talking about!" Alex exclaimed.

"Here, girls. Quiet now. Momma is going to get better," John interrupted, without much conviction.

Alex was angry with his father, his sisters, Poncho, life in general -- even with his mother for getting sick. He rushed out of the kitchen, ready to leave without breakfast, but he tripped over the dog in the hallway and sprawled flat.

"Get out of my way, you stupid dog!" he yelled, and Poncho, delighted, gave him a loud slobbery kiss that left Alex's glasses spattered with saliva.

Yes, it was definitely one of those really bad days. Minutes later, his father discovered he had a flat tire on the van, and Alex had to help change it. They lost precious minutes and the three children were late getting to class. In the haste of leaving, Alex forgot his math homework. That did nothing to help his relationship with his teacher, whom Alex considered to be a pathetic little worm whose goal was to make his life miserable. As the last straw, he had also left his flute, and that afternoon he had orchestra practice; he was the soloist and couldn't miss the rehearsal.

 

The flute was the reason Alex had to leave during lunch to go back to the house. The storm had blown over but the sea was still rough and he couldn't take the short way along the beach road because the waves were crashing over the lip of the cliff and flooding the street. He took the long way, because he had only forty minutes.

For the last few weeks, ever since his mother got sick, a woman had come to clean, but that morning she had called to say that because of the storm she wouldn't be there. It didn't matter, she wasn't much help and the house was always dirty anyway. Even from outside, you could see the signs; it was as if the whole place was sad. The air of neglect began with the garden and spread through every room of the house, to the farthest corners.

Alex could feel his family coming apart. His sister Andrea, who had always been different from the other girls, was now more Andrea than ever; she was always dressing in costumes, and she wandered lost for hours in her fantasy world, where she imagined witches lurking in the mirrors and aliens swimming in her soup. She was too old for that. At twelve, Alex thought, she should be interested in boys, or piercing her ears. As for Nicole, the youngest in the family, she was collecting a zoo full of animals ...

City of the Beasts. Copyright © by Isabel Allende. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

About The Book:

In the midst of his mother's struggle with cancer, fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold has the opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime. Accompanying his fearless grandmother, a magazine reporter for International Geographic, Alexander sets off on an expedition to the remote world of the Amazon. On this mission he meets Nadia, the young daughter of their local guide and together they begin a magical and mystical adventure.

Questions For Discussion:

  1. Alexander goes into a destructive rage after witnessing his father chopping off his mother's hair. How does this reaction help the reader understand the pain that he is experiencing? How do his reactions to his mother's illness compare to those of his sisters?

  2. Kate Cold purposely isn't waiting at the airport for Alexander when he arrives in New York. How does this help to prepare him for their journey to the Amazon? Discuss the mistakes he makes and what important lessons he learns from them.

  3. Describe the relationship between Alexander and his grandmother. How is this relationship different from the typical relationship between a grandmother and her grandson? How does their relationship help Alexander cope with both his mother's illness and the journey into the Amazon? Are there any instances in the story when the relationship changes?

  4. Describe how the male chauvinistic ideals of Mauro Carias and Ludovic Leblanc's clash with the strong-minded women on the journey.

  5. What are totemic animals? Describe the circumstances of how Alexander and Nadia's totemic animals are revealed to them.

  6. How do Alexander and Nadia's strengths and weaknesses compliment one another? Give examples from the book of how they help each other overcome their personal weaknesses by relying on the other's personal strengths.

  7. How does Dr. Omayra Torres deceive the other members of the group? How are her motives ironic?

  8. What is the symbolism of the crystal eggs and the water of health? Why do Nadia and Alexander risk their lives for these things? What do they give up in order to attain them?

  9. Explain the irony surrounding Ludovic Leblanc. How does his public image and reputation contrast with his personal actions? How do his opinions about the Indians and the Beast change as the story evolves?

  10. Who is Walimai? What role does he play in the story?

  11. Describe the Beasts. What is unique about them? How do they compare to the image that the members of the expedition had projected?

About The Author:

Isabel Allende was born in Peru and raised in Chile. She is the author of these international best-sellers for adult readers: Portrait in Sepia, Daughter of Fortune, The Infinite Plan, Eva Luna, Of Love and Shadows, and The House of the Spirits, the short story collection The Stories of Eva Luna, the memoir Paula, and Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses. She lives in California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 65 )
Rating Distribution

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(24)

4 Star

(27)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 65 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2008

    Wow.

    Right off the bat, I knew that I would like reading this book. Although, the beginning did scare me a little bit because it seemed sluggish or slow. But as it went on into the Amazon, I could not put it down. It was a really great book to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2004

    Allende does it again!

    I've read Allende's works before and let me just say that with this novel, I'm convinced that she's as good a writer as everyone says she is. This book easily displays that you don't need to be in a completely different world to have an adventure and experience spiritual miracles. This story is non-stop action from the moment you start it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2014

    An amazing book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 14, 2012

    In the novel The City Of The Beasts starts off with a family and

    In the novel The City Of The Beasts starts off with a family and the mom became diagnosed with cancer. when the 13 year old son found out about this he went up to his room and broke almost everything. his hands became bloody from shattered glass. Alex’s parents realized that he needed to go to his grandmothers house until his mother got better. The chapter starts off with Alex being dropped off at the airport when his dad told him to be an adult. Alex really took this to heart as shown later in the book when he landed in New York and his grand mother would not show up to pick Alex up. He needed to be an adult, he decided to use some money that he has to buy a bus ticket and be taken to his grandmothers house. His Grandmother is a very big drug adict and an alchoholic. He decided to run away. He found himself in an indian village which starts off his whole journey to the lost city of the beasts. He runs into multiple challenges along the way but he makes it after a long journey meeting many good and bad people and learning much. this is an extreme adventure book in my opinion because he takes one big adventure but takes many little adventures on the way to his overall point of destination. I recommend this book to all readers who enjoy a mystery and or an adventure. it is a very well written book leaving cliff hangers at the end of every chapter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2012

    I honestly did not like the book. It was mediocre at best and I

    I honestly did not like the book. It was mediocre at best and I think the author should avoid writing adolescent books. The chapters were tedious and long giving almost a day by day view of Alex's adventures and it constantly introduced new characters that ment nothing to the overall story. I was bored throughout most of the book, nearly falling asleep once when I was extremely tired whereas, if I'm reading a good book, no matter how tired I am I'll stay awake until the book is finished or nearly so. Even the action scenes were poor. The whole theme of teenage adolescense was far off. Personally, being a teenager myself, I could not connect with the character or his emotions which usually should be quite easy seeing as we are of similar age. Perhaps it was the translator's fault, though I find it hard to believe the mere mediocrecy of the book could be put to blame entirely on her shoulders.

    The point is, I did not like this book. Reading the summary it sounded interesting, an adventurous grandma dragging her unwilling teenage grandson along to find the Bigfoot of the Amazon. Though the general plot does revolve around this theme it was not nearly exciting as it sounds. So, overall, I do not recommend City of the Beasts. I'm sure some of Isabel Allende's other works set specifically for adults are quite interesting and well but, in my opinion, City of the Beasts was not one of them.

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  • Posted May 13, 2011

    I recomend this book to people who like adventure, mystery, discovering the unknown, books where dreams and reality can't be told apart from each other, and suspence to the extreme!

    I read the book City of the Beasts By: Isabel Allende, published in 2002. This book is full of mystery, action, details of the unknown and descriptions of the unimaginable. It will take you into another world where everything is very different form everyday life. There are two main characters in the book. The first main character you meet is Alexander Cold. Alex is from California and leaves his house to go with his grandmother to the Amazon jungle in South America. Ales flies from California to New York where his grandmothers house is so that they can fly out to the Amazon jungle together. Once they reach the Amazon jungle you are introduced to the second main character of the story Nadia. While Alex and Nadia are in a camp ready to depart on their adventure, Alex comes face to face with the Black Jaguar. Afterwards he describes the connection that he had with the Jaguar to Nadia. Nadia tells Alex that, "the jaguar recognized you because it is your totemic animal(pg.108)." She also says that, "we all have an animal spirit that accompanies us. It is like our soul. We don't all find our animal; usually it's only great warriors and shamans who do, byt you discovered yours without looking(pg.108)." Then she tells him that his name is Jaguar. A couple of days later Alex, Nadia, and the rest of the crew leave the camp and head out in boats deep into the Amazon jungle in search of the Beast, which is why Alex and his grandmother are in the Amazon to begin with. Their main objectives for going into the Amazon are to look for the Beast and to give the indians that live there a vaccine so that they don't contract any diseases that their immune systems aren't used to. Once they are on their way they run into many different animals that they didn't see around the camp cite. After a few more days when they stop to camp the Beast shows up and kills one of the crew members. The next night Alex and Nadia go a little ways into the woods and are captured by indians. Later Alex and Nadia learn that the indians are known as the People of the Mist because of where they live. Once Alex and Nadia are well rested the indians take them on a long journey to their home. One of the obsticles that they face is the scaleing of a waterfall. Once they reach the city of the People of the Mist Alex realizes that it is not like other indian cities that he has read about, the houses each have their own fireplace and they are in a circle in which every house is connected to the other by small roofs of leaves so that it doesn't get hot in the summer, when it rains it doesn't get wet, and if anyone flies over their city they won't be able to see it because of how it blends in with the land surrounding it. I am not going to say anymore about the book because the next adventure that Alex and Nadia go on together is the last adventure in this book.

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  • Posted December 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not What I Expected...

    The book "City of the Beasts", by Isabel Allende is about a 15-year-old boy named Alex Cold who is having some family troubles. While his mother and father go to Texas for his mother's chemotherapy, Alex is sent off to stay with his grandmother, a tough magazine reporter who prefers Alex to call her Kate. He already has a bad history with her and is now forced to join her on an expedition through the Amazon jungle in search of a large creature named the Beast.

    When the two arrive at the jungle, Alex meets Nadia, the young daughter of their guide, and the two become fast friends. Along the way Nadia teaches Alex about the jungle and the people that live there, including a well-hidden population known as the People of the Mist. Alex and Nadia are taken by the People, and eventually accepted by the tribe. They meet Walimai, a jungle shaman who shows them where to find sacred items they need, one that could potentially help heal Alex's mother. When they return, they find that a traitor from within their own expedition has taken control of the village and has plans of his own.

    One major theme of this book is "Walimai's unchanging law of nature: to give the equivalent of what you received." Allende is constantly referring to this "law" throughout the story and she easily gets the message across. For example, Nadia is searching for three crystal eggs that she believes can save the People of the Mist from impending death. When she finally reaches the eggs, she is unable to lift or move any of them. Then she remembers what Walimai told her and leaves behind her most prized possession, and is able to move the eggs.

    Honestly, I did not like this book. I thought that a book about a 15-year-old boy would be geared towards that age group, but I found that this book actually seems to be written in a very childish way. The word choice was also generally simplistic. This combination really did not work for me. For example, here's a quote that demonstrates what I'm saying: "The next morning, the People of the Mist returned." No explanation or anything, they just returned. In some instances, this is okay but in this particular moment in the book, more detail was necessary.

    Also, right in the middle of the book, Allende took an extremely spiritual turn, making the story go from realistic to almost religious and unrealistically magical. If you're going to write a magical story it should be that way throughout, not starting smack dab in the middle. Even Allende's story elements and conflicts seemed to be childish. In this story there is a language barrier between Alex and the Indians. Normally this would be a challenge, but, according to Allende, not if you "listen with your heart" because once Alex does, he can easily understand the language.

    Overall, I definitely would not recommend this book, particularly to anyone 9th grade (or older) like me. I would rather read a children's chapter book written in this style than a young adult book that is written in a childish way, like "City of the Beasts". I also wouldn't recommend it due to the uncalled for amounts of magic used, giving the story an unrealistic feel. In my opinion, the majority of my peers would feel the same way I do about this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    PAINFULLY boring!!!!

    I wouldn't recommend this author, period. This book was sooo hard to stick with and keep reading. It was incredibly boring, and the author tossed in a few things like the two main kids ditching their clothing to be accepted by native tribes that was nothing short of inappropriate. Then she tried making the reader believe all the mental stuff was real. (Oh, like you take this drug and the spirits will guide you, and you can be invisible to other people.) I hated this book. It made me mad, that it was SO slow-moving and the stupid, drawn-out, REPETITIVE story line that I finally skimmed through the last half of the book. It's in serious need of editing. I'm sure I didn't miss anything. Don't waste your money.

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  • Posted December 16, 2009

    City of the Beasts

    The novel, City of the Beast's by Isabel Allende, was a very good book. It is a story about a boy named Alex Cold. He lives with his mom, dad, and two sisters. One day he finds out that his mother has to go to a hospital in Texas because she is very ill. When his mother and father go to Texas, Alex goes to live with his Grandmother Kate, who he doesn't like very much. Kate takes him on a journey to the Amazon for her magazine article about the Beast from the Amazon. During this expedition they were a few other people going with them. One of them is a girl named Nadia who he becomes friends with. Nadia has a pet monkey named Boroba and she can also speak to the Indians that speak a different language. The people of the expedition have to go through many obstacles as they travel through the forest looking for the Beasts. One day while they were searching for the Beasts', an invisible Indian tribe known as the People of the Mist captured both Alex and Nadia. Alex and Nadia were selected as the chosen ones that would save the People of the Mist from the Rahakanariwas. They found out what their inner animal was. Nadia is the eagle and Alex is the jaguar. The People of the mist made them climb up the sides of a waterfall with nothing to help them to get to their village. The chief of the tribe had told what Nadia and Alex tasks they had to perform in order to save both the tribe from the Rahakanariwas and Alex's mother from her sickness. They had to follow Walimia, (the tribes old witch man) to the mountain of the gods. Once they got to their destination they would receive instructions from the gods to go. Nadia has to find three eggs to bring back to the People of the Mist. Alex has to find magical water that will to get his mother back to health. I enjoyed this novel because it always kept you thinking about what will happen with each chapter. Also it was very interesting and if you didn't really know that much about the Amazon it gave you some interesting information about it. I recommend reading this book so then you can find out who the gods are, if they get to actually meet the beasts and find out if Nadia and Alex successfully complete their task.

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  • Posted September 29, 2009

    Very good book

    I got this book for my daughter who is 12 and one for myself so that we could read together and we enjoyed it so much. We are looking forward to reading the other 2 that follow.

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  • Posted June 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    City Of The Beast is a great book for all readers of any age.

    If you are looking for a book filled with adventure and action then this is a wonderful book for you. Once you begin this book, you wont want to stop reading until the very last page. Allende's story of a child following his grandmother into the wild gives adventure a whole new name!

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  • Posted May 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it

    I loved the whole series thought it was pretty cool

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  • Posted April 29, 2009

    city of the beasts by Isabel Allende

    This book was a good read a nice book for learning about the amazon and more about south american culture where isabel came from which was in the area of chile and argentina in the book it starts out alittle week with alex almost losing his mom and then going to have to stay with his grand mother but it starts to pick up from there his father then tells him that he has to go on a trip to the amazon with his grandmother (fathers side) and he starts to freak out because sometimes when she wants to go places she gets really into it. Well he gets on a plane to newyork from california from where he lived and gets off at the airport but his grand mother was no where to be found so he took all his stuff and took a bus he also then met a girl there who would later on take all of his belongings. He gets to his grandmothers and she is suprised that he even got there with out any help of hers and it was a cold winter believe me. He then takes the trip with his grand mother the next evening and he goes because his grand mother is with a group of people and a professor that are studying the living styles of the native indians who are written to be savage beasts by the professor but later on he meets up with this little girl and they become new friends from there they find out that there are evil plots to a terrorist strike and when they are following the people they get captured by the indians.
    they thought that this was a bad thing until the indians turned out to be friendly even though they split alex's head open cause he wouldnt shut up. But from there they begin a journey to look for these beasts and finally come upon them the beast when you come close to it was supposed to let out a toxican that knocks the predator unconsouis but that didnt happen when they were with the indians because come to find out that the "beasts" where the gods of the indians that were over amillion of years old they resembled sloths with there sharp claws and scattered fur. From there alex and his friend and the new friends he made go after the terrorists but thats is where im gunna leave the book for you to find out hope you have a fun read and like the review =)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2009

    The City of the Beasts

    The City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende is a fictional novel that lets you explore the very figments of your imagination. The internationally best-selling author tells a story about fifteen year old Alexander Cold that goes on an extraordinary adventure to the Amazon with his eccentric Grandmother, Kate. His Grandmother Kate works for the International Geographic and is trying to capture evidence of a mythical creature that lives in the Amazon called the Beast. ¿Kate explained that the International Geographic had financed an expedition to the heart of the Amazon jungle, on the border between Brazil and Venezuela, to look for a gigantic, possible humanoid, creature that had been seen a number of times in that area.¿ Upon entering the exotic world Alex makes friends with one of the Native people there and her name is Nadia. Nadia is different because she believes in an invisible tribe of Indians called the People of the Mist. ¿They must be the people of the mist, the invisible ones, the most remote and mysterious Indians of the Amazon. It¿s been known they exist, but no one has ever spoken with them replied Nadia.¿ While the International Geographic team is searching for the Beast, Nadia and Alex are captured and from then on they must rely on each other and their hidden talents in a world no outsider has ever seen. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will recommend it to any person that loves a great story. I enjoyed this novel because of how interesting and mystifying the Amazon is portrayed and how the author is from the same area the story is told. Allende kept you guessing and each new chapter surprised you even more. I would definitely recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2008

    City of the Beast Review

    The City of the Beast, by Isabel Allende, is an average book that is childish and rather dull. Most of the characters in the book are either unrealistic or unlikeable such as Walimai and Professor LeBlanc where as the major characters like Alex and Nadia were dull and depended on others too much to get them out of trouble(Walimai). During the story I could not get an idea of how evil the antogonists in the book were like, such as Captain Ariosto and could not picture Alex's and Nadia's struggle agianst them. The overall story line could have been better by putting more action and less dialogue in it. For most of the story they were traveling to the Eye of the World and weren't doing anything important and as a result I could not get into it; Allende should have focused more on the People of the Mist, the Beasts and once the characters had gotten to the Eye of the World. Perhaps the book is better in Spanish its orginal language; but other wise it was childish and dull and the story did not seem to go along with the summary it was more about the local peoples than the beasts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    Read this book...are you reading it yet?

    First off let me say that this book was a lot better than I had originally thought it would be. I usually enjoy reading books that I¿m sure I will like but I¿m glad I decided to read this one. It stars Alexander Cold who is a 15 year old boy. He lives in a small town, the kind where everyone knows everyone. His mother is very ill from cancer. His father is a doctor but he has no clue about what to do. When it seems his mother isn¿t getting better Alex¿s father decides to have her hospitalized. While in the hospital they can¿t take care of Alex so his parents send him to live with his grandmother Kate for a few weeks. His grandmother is a renowned writer and a bit of an eccentric. Kate has some plans for Alex. She takes him with her to the Amazon where she is doing a report for International Geographic on ¿The Beast¿. A creature that is supposedly around 9 feet tall and appears almost Bigfoot-like in appearance. Nobody knows much about the creature. With the exception of a few scattered people that saw it during the night. During his first few weeks in the Amazon he meets and befriends Nadia, the daughter of the expeditions tour guide. Nadia helps Alexander cope with the changes in his environment and teaches him about the forest and its inhabitants. Nadia and Alex soon become allies when they suspect treachery in their midst. And together with some help from Nadia¿s native friend Walamai, an ancient tribal shaman, the two friends learn more and more about themselves, each other, the forest around them, and most importantly ¿The Beast¿. After many, many days in the forest Alex and Nadia discover the people of the mist. A tribe of natives that have until now been untouched by the influence of the white people or the ¿nahab¿ as the tribes call them. The people of the mist have remained hidden for so long because of their strange ability to blend in with the forest and become almost invisible at will. Alex and Nadia get captured by the people of the mist and after gaining their trust are put through challenges and become part of the tribe. After their run-in with the people of the mist Alex and Nadia go with Walamai to the lost city of El Dorado. There they discover the astounding mysteries of ¿The Beast¿. Nadia and Alex then go through more trials that test their strength, perseverance, and their courage. These trials lead to Alex and Nadia discovering things about themselves that they never would have learned on their own. The author Isabel Allende keeps you guessing throughout the entire story. Once you pick it up you can¿t stop reading it until it is done. I recommend this book mostly for people ages 13-18 but anyone who enjoys a good adventure novel will love the mysterious wonders of the Amazon jungle in this great novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    city of the beasts

    City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende is a gripping story of a young boy , Alex Cold, who goes on a trip to the Amazon rain forest in the middle of South America. I enjoyed the novel because of its great disciptions of the amazon habitat. I also enjoyed the tale it told and how the was a good contrast between fiction and nonfiction. It told the stories of some of the indigenous tribes that could still live deep in the rain forest ,too far in for most people to venture willingly.Another great thing i loved about this book is the language, most of it takes place among the tribe of the people of the mist, and the author would use words derived for the tribes in South America.I believe this book to be out standing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2008

    Ashley S

    The book City of the Beasts, written by Isabel Allende, is a story about a boy becoming a man. Alexander Cold grows up in a small town by the Pacific Ocean, where everybody knows everybody, and everything about everyone. Alex¿s life is simple and easy until his mother becomes very ill and he has to go and live with his ¿crazy¿ Grandmother Kate. Alex takes a plane to New York City, but when Kate is not there, Alex must venture through the city and find her house. In the process, Alex ends up having everything stolen, except his passport which was in his pocket at the time. Upon arriving to Kate¿s house, Alex discovers that they are to leave to the Amazon Rainforest because Kate needs to write a newspaper article on the legendary beasts. The expedition consisted of Alex, Kate, Timothy Bruce Kates photographer, his assistant Joel Gonzalez, a famous anthropologist Ludovic Leblanc, Cesar Santos their guide. His daughter Nadia, Dr. Omayra Torres she was to vaccinate the Indians, Karakawe Leblanc¿s personal slave, and three soldiers. On the way to the eye of the world, two of the soldiers were killed, and Joel was crushed be an anaconda. As they set up camp one night, Nadia and Alex were kidnapped by the Indians of the mist and brought to the eye of the world. Both of the children learn many things, such as their animal names and how to help the Indians, Alex also learns how to save his mother. When they return to the expedition though, Alex and Nadia learn of many lies and ploys within the group. And in order to save the Indians of the Mist they must reveal the truth and risk their own lives. I did not like this book because it jumped around too much, and it became very confusing to read. For example, when Alex meets the black Jaguar, ¿he saw the cat open it¿s jaws he saw the gleam of it¿s enormous pearl-white teeth, and in a human voice, but one that seemed to issue from the depths of a cavern, it spoke his name: Alexander¿¿ There were many times where the book would reflect back to that moment without indication and I would have to re-read the page to figure out what was going on. I would not recommend this book to a friend because I found that I could only read a short amount at a time because I continued to become very bored with it. I also found that the book was slowly paced, and did not fully describe the settings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2007

    City of the Beasts Review

    'Alexander Cold has the chance to take the trip of a lifetime.' Leaving his ill mother and a home full of misery, Alex travels to the Amazon with his grandmother on an 'International Geographic' expedition. Their mission, along with the other expedition members, including an anthropologist, doctor, photographers, and a guide with his daughter Nadia, is to collect information and document The Beast, the 'legendary Yeti of the rainforest.' As the group sets off down the amazon, everyone is excited and anxious for their chance to see the mythical Beast. But after a photographer is nearly crushed by an anaconda and a guide is shot and killed from a strange blow-dart, the atmosphere of the expedition is quickly suffocated with fear. After Alex and Nadia are taken away by the invisible People of the Mist, they embark on a miraculous and dangerous journey to the Temple of the Gods, where they must unlock the power of their totemic animals within themselves to continue their journey and achieve their goals. I enjoy reading stories of adventure, and the City of the Beasts definitely fits under this category. It's many daring journeys and points of extreme tension building to an unimaginable climax were definitely enough to keep me reading. I would recommend this book to all ages who enjoy reading adventure stories. The main adventure of the book - the expedition to document The Beast - along with each characters' separate adventures, such as Alex's journey to New York, and him and Nadia's hike to the Temple of the Gods all keep the reader interested and amazed during the entire story. I would also recommend this book to anyone who likes surprises - there are plenty of them to keep the story fascinating and intriguing throughout.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2007

    Something You Should Try Reading

    City of the Beasts was a surprise to me. I found it quite intriguing at most points. This kind of fantasy never usually catches my attention, but this book did. Yet, I believe that this book is for a younger audience (maybe 10-14). The story begins with a 15-year-old boy named Alexander Cold. His mother is really ill, and she needs to get special treatment in Texas. So Alex is sent to his grandmother, Kate, who is strict and hardened. Kate has been selected to go to the Amazon to research a 'Beast' that has been believed of killing off the nearby Indians. On this journey, Alex meets Nadia Santos, who is friendly with the Indians and is around Alex's age. These two connect and become very good friends, as they help each other with certain difficulties throughout the entire story. Kate and Alex are grouped up with many others doing research as well for a magazine called the International Geographic. The group encounters certain problems, such as finding the 'Beast' and locating the Indians. They try looking throughout most of the Amazon, but they have no luck. But one night, the Indians of the area, or the 'People of the Mist,' take Alex and Nadia with them to their village. The Indians want help keeping away the nahab, or the outsiders. Soon, Alex and Nadia become great friends of the People of the Mist. At this point, Alex and Nadia begin a journey to the City of the Beasts, with the help of an ancient witch man. At this city, they encounter large, lethargic sloth-like creatures called 'Beasts.' I don't want to ruin any more of the plot line for those of you who would like to read City of the Beasts, written by Isabel Allende, so I will stop here. My only problem with the book was that Allende would sometimes elaborate on certain topics a little too much. It could make reading slow and boring at times. But, all the same, I still enjoyed reading this novel as a good change of pace. My Final Word: Buy or check this book out of a nearby library and read it. You may surprise yourself. I did. Just remember to keep an open mind.

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