Thursday, 21 March 2013

Swamplandia by Karen Russell: Book Review

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Swamplandia! was a Christmas gift from my sister. When she asked me if there was anything I would like I looked at my 'books I want to read' list, and this was near the top. When I read a review about it somewhere it looked fascinating. I finally read it last week and I was not disappointed.
 
Swamplandia! is Karen Russell's first book and is set amidst Florida's Ten Thousand Islands, where Ava Bigtree, age 13, lives with the Bigtree clan: her father, brother and sister. They live in their alligator themed amusement park which the book is named for. After Ava's mother, the star of the park, dies, and a major new amusement park opens on the mainland, Swamplandia falls apart and the children all try to cope in different ways. Isolated from the mainland completely now that the tourists are no longer arriving every day, Ossie, the sister, becomes romantically involved with the paranormal, and Kiwi, the brother, is desperate to escape the park completely. Ava embarks on her own journey, first to try to become the new star of the park and then a search through the desolate and lonely landscape of the Islands with the Birdman, a haunting journey which lingers in the mind.

With alligator wrestling, a crazy grandfather and a library boat, I couldn't put Swamplandia! down: if you like a well written, slightly magical story with a variety of intriguing characters and an unusual setting, I think it's a very worthwhile read. 

7 comments:

  1. Ooh I like the sound of this, I think I'll give it a go.

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  2. I just heard someone talking about this book the other day at a baby shower I was at!! Hmm, must be a sign that I should give it a read :-)

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  3. Sounds awesome...hafta check it out!

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  4. I really enjoyed this book. The details were so perfect that I felt like I was lying on my stomach with my sister and a ouija board the entire time.

    At one point, Karen Russell's prose convinced me that I could never write well, but then I was reminded not to compare myself with someone who was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

    I love stories that ask whether the explanation for events is magic or something darker. Although, I'm always rooting for magic.

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  5. Swamplandia is so imaginative but still feels like something that could happen, in a weird sort of way. Karen Russell not only has a creative mind, she sure can write.
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