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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Beth Karpas
If the two titles below are any indication, this new series of novellas from Stoke Books is bound to be a staple in many school and public libraries. Billed as “first class short teen fiction, accessible to all,” each title is written at a fourth-grade reading level, but aimed soundly at a young adult audience. Few will miss a more complicated vocabulary or extra detail when the stories are this engaging. These are pricey, but well worth it. Pale is pure science fiction, as one would expect from the author of Retribution Falls (Gollancz, 2009). Pales are people brought back to life with Lazarus serum. They do not breath, their hearts do not beat, and they are legally dead. The serum only works on one blood type, so jealousy and fear of Pales is endemic in the society. As this story begins, Jed and his best friend beat a Pale boy almost to a second death, with no repercussions. When Jed is hit by a car later that day and revived, he learns the true meaning of karma in a few short days. (Stoke Books) Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Pales are the dead brought back to life. They are obvious, as they have white skin, hair, and eyes. Only 1 in 10 people are able to become a Pale, as the Lazurus Serum works only on a certain blood type, can only be used right at the time of death, and only if the injuries aren't too severe. Outcasts, they live in a place called the Graveyard, and while they go to school, they are ignored or bullied by the other children. Jed goes along with his friend Kyle in beating up Pale David, but when Jed is killed in a car crash and revived as a Pale himself, David becomes his friend and Kyle his enemy. Not only is Kyle bullying him, but he's also going out with his girlfriend. Jed has a plan to lure Sadie and turn her into a Pale to get back at both Kyle and Sadie. Will he be able to go through with his plan? The basic premise of the book is good, though not fully realized. Character motivation, as well as the ease in which they obtain the serum, isn't completely believable. The large type is a plus for hi/lo readers, and middle schoolers might be attracted to these horror stories.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, San Leandro, CA
Kirkus Reviews
The Lazarus serum allows people with the right blood type to survive death, but in this minimalist dystopia, death may be preferable to the grim future that awaits the resurrected. The serum has side effects. Pales, the resurrected, don't breathe, their hearts stop beating, and they never age; skin, hair and eye pupils turn ghostly white. Jed's community hates the Pales, confining them to the Graveyard, a decayed ghetto. His lawyer dad specializes in denying Pales post-mortem legal rights. Not long after Jed and his brutal friend Kyle beat up a Pale, Jed dies in a car accident, and his distraught girlfriend, Sadie, asks first responders to give him the serum. Now that Jed's a Pale, his father can't bear to see him; his friends, even Sadie, reject him. Good genre fiction offers readers a fresh, unique perspective on their world. This rare science-fiction hi-lo for teens (a category largely confined to urban realism) by a British fantasy author raises tough, intriguing questions about insiders and outcasts, gangs, loyalty and what makes life worth living. However, the exceptionally tight word count limits their exploration. This frustratingly vague world cries out for detail and context. Struggling or reluctant readers may be perplexed, but the gripping, if violent, teen content will keep them engaged. Guaranteed to generate lively discussion. (Science fiction. 13 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781781120910
  • Publisher: Stoke Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2012
  • Pages: 67
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL310L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting bedtime story

    Pale is a nicely written short story by Chris Wooding that I would classify as a Sci-Fi book. I would say the book could be read by anyone 4th grade or higher, although I believe it’s intended for high school students.

    Pale is a book about a society that has developed technology that can bring people of a certain blood type back from death. Not a catastrophic, dismembering death, but a routine, run-of-the-mill, everyday death resulting from basically anything but dismemberment.

    The plot serves as a moral story as it includes prejudice, karma and character realization and growth. Jed, the average “I’m better then you are because you are dead” kid gets placed into the ‘dead’ situation. Life, of lack thereof, quickly changes his outlook on the “Pale” classification of the dead people.

    Pales are noticeably different with pale skin, white hair and blue eyes hence the name Pale. They are looked at as a lower class of people and treated as such. The prejudice comes in as they are abused physically, verbally and emotionally because they are different.

    Jed, the good boy, becomes a Pale after a fatal accident. He now feels the abuse he used to inflict on others proving that what goes around comes around.

    He has several experiences that change his view as he learns the moral of the story (so to speak). This is a good all-around book for younger kids to learn the importance of the fight against prejudice.

    This is a quick book that can be read in one short sitting, it may make someone an interesting bedtime story someday.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    I¿m pretty sure that from now on, I should be more careful befor

    I’m pretty sure that from now on, I should be more careful before choosing the next books I’m going to read. I was eager to start reading Pale, expecting, of course, a novel. And when I began reading, I discovered a novella instead ^_^ Even so, reading Pale was a real pleasure and I don’t regret a second the time I spent. Especially that I only needed about an hour to finish it.. The only thing I feel sorry about is the fact that such an interesting idea was presented somehow superficial, in only 70 pages, when it could have become a much more captivating novel.

    Pale covers the forever fascinating subject of immortality. This time, the attempt to fight death is represented by the Lazarus Serum, which offers the possibility to come back from the dead to a small category of people. But the adverse effects of the serum and the irony that only a few people fill the natural criteria to benefit from this new discovery are shaping huge debates and also a general feeling of hate for the ones that returned from death. Despite the fact that the Pales remain the exact same persons they were before dying (keeping their cognitive abilities, their memories and their behavior), their altered appearance determines the society to reject and brutalize them. And an unaspicious legislation makes their new lives even more difficult. The myths and the superstitions are the next to come – the fear, the envy and the ignorance being the trigger to a real war against the returned ones.

    On this background we meet Jed and his friends, a group of children that absorbed from the adults the whole chord of thoughts and reactions against the Pales. And when one of the kids finds himself on the other side of the fence, the reader’s vision transfers in an opposite angle. We have now a different perception over the world, right from the inside of the Pales’ community and the society’s cruelty is highlighted even more. The concept of family is ruined, the friends become enemies and the ones we were seeing until now in a dark or at least in an unclear light become the only comfort for the main character.

    The story makes you think about Pandora’s box. The Pales are the trigger of the negative feelings’ explosion: hate, revenge, envy, cruelty, vanity, abuse. But in the same time, they remain the only symbol of hope, the last bit of gentleness, kindness and harmony. Unlike other books where the living dead are usually the villains, in Pale, the roles are reversed. The humanity only lies in the hearts of the living dead, while the normal humans lost any trace of humaneness.


    - The author’s style is remarkable, blending the childish tone and the infantile perception over the events with a well hidden cold and sharp touch. Although the novella is considered to be Young Adult, there are some deeper meanings, hidden between the lines.


    - Because of the limited number of pages, a lot of important details were not clarified, so the reader remains with some questions that don’t receive an explanation. Also, the novella’s storyline could have been extended, in order to become a premise for a more complex plot.

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  • Posted August 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I loved Pale! I loved the cover! Mostly I loved the message this

    I loved Pale! I loved the cover! Mostly I loved the message this short
    novella carried within its pages. Pales are dead people who have been
    injected with the Lazarus Serum and brought back to life. They are
    different in appearance. One of the side effects of the serum is that
    they wake up totally devoid of any color, hence the name Pale. The fact
    that they are the dead and look like the dead pretty much gives everyone
    else reasons enough to isolate them. We explore racism, prejudice
    thoughts and bullying in Pale. We also explore what happens when things
    are turned around and the cool kid is no longer cool and the bully
    becomes the bullied. I think the issues brought up in this book are
    obviously still prevalent today. This book would be great for kids in
    middle school. Bullying is becoming more and more of a problem in our
    schools and I think we need to find more creative ways to tackle this
    and the other issues brought to light in the book. This book lends the
    opportunity to discuss these issues in a more neutral way. I was
    completely impressed by the writing and how things unfolded. I think our
    youth would be able to relate and walk away with very important
    messages. Yes, this is a novella. Yes, there were details not included
    that could have added to the story. No, I don’t feel as if I was
    cheated. I think all was perfect just as it was because the most
    important details were there. I consider this a good foundation and
    would be excited to read the next installment if Chris Wooding chooses
    to go there. I definitely recommend this read to everyone! ARC was
    provided by Stoke Books via NetGalley.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 9, 2012

    Now, this is different. I don't know what to name the genr

    Now, this is different. I don't know what to name the genre since it's not completely dystopian. There are not many elements of Dystopian novels in this one, I am confused. Aside from that, this book was pretty good.
    The book revolves aroun a world where there is a medication that brings you back from the dead. But the medication is not for everyone, you should have the right blood type and you should be given the medication when you die right away, or it won't work.
    There are many other requirements and it has side effects, the person who is given the medication changes appearance. He turns pale, his irises turn white, etc... The Pales are outcasts and they don't have any rights, since they are considered dead.
    Jed hates Pales and he bullied them all the time, but after an accident. He is the one who is coping with being a pale. This book is a very short story, almost 40 pages, it looks like a base for a dystopian novel, almost like a prequel.
    I liked this book, but it was very short, so I can't base my ideas on the aspects. As I said, the book seems like a base for a story, not an actual story. The characters are all pretty one-dimensional, they are not developed very much, and Jed makes some stupid choices. But overall, this book is an enjoyable read and I can't wait to know what Chris Wooding has in stock for us. Maybe there will be a novel based on this book, afterall.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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