I apologize that my blog entries are becoming fewer and farther between. After finding three time travel books in February/March that I really liked, I’m now having trouble finding many that I can get excited about. Thank goodness a new book from the fantastic Ranger in Time series just came out! But I could really use suggestions for more titles if any of you have ideas!
The Fire Thief is the first of three books in the Fire Thief trilogy series by Terry Deary (2007, 250 pages). Terry Deary is an actor, singer and writer from the UK who has written over 285 children’s books! Boy, is that a lot of books! Although it would seem you could hardly turn around in England without bumping into one of his books, I had never heard of him until I read this novel.
Now available in paperback, The Fire Thief hilariously reimagines the myth of Prometheus, the Greek demigod who stole fire from the gods and gave it to the human race. To escape the gods’ revenge, Prometheus travels through time to Eden City in 1858. There, he befriends a young orphan, actor, and petty criminal named Jim. When Jim runs into trouble with the law, Prometheus is torn — if he uses his powers to get his friend out of trouble, he will betray his hiding place to the gods. Terry Deary masterfully interweaves two plots, with action jumping at a whirlwind pace from Mount Olympus to the seedy taverns and elegant mansions of Victorian Eden City. Packed with puns, wisecracks, and sarcastic footnotes, The Fire Thief turns Greek mythology into a laughing matter.
I am sure some nine-year-olds will find this book funny, but for the most part I didn’t . I just couldn’t relate to Deary’s type of humor. There are some footnotes that mostly take the form of irreverent author comments addressed directly to the reader that I thought were kind of cute such as
…I won’t spoil the story for you by telling you when I saw him next. You have to remember that a writer’s job is to keep you guessing and turning the pages. Haven’t you learned ANYTHING from me? Now get back to the story.
The unique thing this book offers is the reimagining of the story of Prometheus in a gritty city during the Industrial Revolution. (At the beginning of the book, Prometheus is in Greece at “The Dawn of Time”, but–here’s the time travel part of the book– he zooms around the moon and planets and through the years until he gets to 1858 England.) I think the biggest fans of this book would be kids who were familiar with the stories of the Greek gods. Unfortunately, the one-dimensional characters and contrived plot failed to grab me.
For more middle grade book reviews follow the links at Shannon Messenger’s Blog.