City of the Beasts

City of the Beasts

4.0 63
by Isabel Allende
     
 

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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

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.

Editorial Reviews

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
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+)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062254474
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/01/2014
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
100,959
File size:
833 KB

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.

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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
San Rafael, California
Date of Birth:
August 2, 1942
Place of Birth:
Lima, Peru
Website:
http://www.isabelallende.com

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City of the Beasts 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MattMH More than 1 year ago
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&rsquo;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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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Jasmine_Paradis More than 1 year ago
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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Smiley_Face More than 1 year ago
City of the Beasts, by Isabel Allende, is a page turner. The main character is 15-year-old, Alexander Cold. He is forced to go live with his grandmother in New York, while his mother undergoes chemotherapy. His Grandmother, Kate, is about to take a trip to the Amazon. Kate and an expedition of others will try to prove the existence of a giant, strong beast who roams the land of the Amazon. Of course, Alex is whisked along to the depths of the Amazon. At the beginning of the adventure, Alex meets the guide's daughter, Nadia. Though she is young, the two become very good friends and are united through out the journey. The two meet a group of Indians, face a life or death situation, and learn that rainforests need to stop being cut down. Even though I really like this book, there were some things I did not like. City of the Beasts, was really descriptive and detailed, however, there were too many characters and at some points it was just too imaginary. This book was filled with detail. I could envision every scene, like the Amazon rainforest, even though I have never been there. The way she described every single detail was a little overwhelming at first. When you keep reading you see the need for the excessive amount of details as the author describes imaginary places, mystical animals, and the rainforest. An example of the details are, ". an enormous black bird had crashed against the window with a clatter of shattered glass, flown into the house, and carried off his mother.the gigantic vulture clasped Lisa Clod's clothing in its yellow claws, flew out the same broken window, and disappeared into a sky heavy with dark clouds.wind lasing the trees, rain on the rooftop, and thunder." With all this detail, I could see the book in my head. It was like I was watching a movie, not reading a book. I could not wait to find out what happened next. In City of the Beasts there were too many characters and their name were very similar. Some people were easy to understand who was who, like Alex, Nadia, and Kate. However, I kept mixing up who Ceasar Santos, Timothy Bruce, Mauro Carias, Captain Ariosto and Ludovic Leblanc were. As you can see, there were a lot of people. In the end they were all very different, some were bad and some good so it was really confusing. Along with the main characters they were many who were just mention for a couple pages, or even sentences. Two other photographers, Joel Gonzalez, and many others were mentioned, but relatively out of the book. Lastly, at some points the book was too imaginary. There where giant beast, invisible people, spirits, lost cities, milk rivers, healing water, and sparkling eggs. It did not seem very realistic at all. The story was more like a dream to me. For those who love to read fantasy this is a book for you. I would recommend this book for those who like to read fantasy or adventure, or teenagers. The age of the main character, allows teenagers to connect. In some ways this book could be regarded as a 'coming of age' story. I would not recommend this book to adults, children under 13, and those who are really skirmish or do not like blood and gruesomeness. Adults wouldn't be able to connect as much, there are some older topics, and many people die gruesome deaths. Since the Amazon is a wild and unforgiving place, bad things happen, even to good people. Overall, I enjoyed reading City of the Beasts. Though imaginary, it was also an adventure. It was a great book!! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pic21 More than 1 year ago
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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nicoj More than 1 year ago
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!