Strange Objects

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Winner of Australia's 1991 Children's Book of the Year award, this stunningly original work defies easy categorization as it spins dual story lines into one spellbinding yarn. Crew brings to life the land and peoples of the desert shores of Western Australia, a setting that will prove exotic to most Americans. He starts his novel with a bang: a note from an archeologist introduces documents she's been sent by a recently vanished 16-year-old named Steven Messenger, who had gained some notoriety when he'd found a cast-iron pot containing a 17th-century Dutchman's journal and a mummified human hand bearing a now-missing ring. The journal tells the story of Wouter Loos, a sailor accused of barbarous crimes and cast upon the ocean along with a teenage killer; Crew unfolds Loos's narrative with Messenger's as a seamless and unpredictable blend of mystery, history, anthropology and science fiction. The first of many shocks is in store when Messenger turns out to be not the typical YA nice-guy teen protagonist, but the reincarnation (or the extraterrestrial clone?) of the supernatural psychopath who so chillingly dominates Loos's diary. Crew tantalizes to the very end, leaving readers to speculate enthusiastically on the riddles he craftily leaves unsolved. His tale will electrify his audience. Ages 10-14. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 9-12-- A bizarre, mystical, and very Australian novel. On a school field trip to the outback, 16-year-old Steven Messenger discovers a 17th-century iron pot containing a leather-bound diary and a mummified human hand. These artifacts are turned over to the authorities, but an antique ring from the hand becomes Steven's prized possession and results in out-of-body experiences and dabblings in aboriginal religion. Told through the reports of archaeologists, historians, newspaper accounts, Steven's personal writings, and the diary of Wouter Loos, a 17th-century murderer, the story both intrigues and confuses. For readers well versed in the area's history, geography, lore, and ethnicity, it may be compelling. However, the violence and mysticism create a strong, skewed, negative vision of Australian human relations both past and present. The main characters, historical Wouter Loos and contemporary Steven Messenger, echo racial misunderstandings and prejudice. Loos recounts in his diary the prevailing European stereotypes of ``natives,'' while Messenger describes Aborigines as ``all looking alike,'' dirty, and ``drinking cheap wine.'' His comments and physical attack on an elderly Aborigine are disturbing, to say the least. Couple these sentiments and events with the effect that possessing the magical ring has on Messenger, and you have one complicated ball of wax. Strange Objects is a strange book that will most likely baffle American young adults. --Alice Casey Smith, Lakewood Public Library, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671797591
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/22/1993
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 1200L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.87 (d)

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