City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende (2002)

Kate and Alexander were flying across northern Brazil in a commercial airplane. For hours and hours, they had been seeing an endless expanse of forest, all the same intense green, cut through by rivers like shining serpents. The most formidable of all was the color of coffee with cream. “The Amazon River is the widest and longest on earth; five times greater than any other,” Alex read in the guidebook his grandmother had bought him in Rio de Janeiro. “Only the astronauts on their way to the moon have ever seen it in its entirety.” What the book didn’t say was that this vast area, the last paradise on the planet, was being systematically destroyed by the greed of entrepreneurs and adventures, as he had learned in school. They were building a highway, a slash cut through the jungle, on which settlers were coming in and tons of woods and minerals were going out. Kate informed her grandson that they would go up the Rio Negro to the Upper Orinoco, to an almost unexplored triangle in which most of the tribes they were interested in were concentrated. The Beast was supposed to live in that part of Amazon.”

Alex is forced out of his comfortable life in California when his mother has to undergo chemotherapy and he has to go live with his eccentric black tobacco-smoking and vodka-drinking grandmother for a while. She is a journalist and is going to the heart of Amazon to search for a legendary creature named the Beast – not very different from the Yeti apparently, and Alex has to go with her.

The book is meant for young (13+ I would say) readers, so the language is simple, but also very detailed. The characters, from Kate, the eccentric grandmother, to the suspicious-looking Indian who was hired to fan banana-leaves for the award-winning anthropologist with a slight phobia for anything that moves. It is definitely a thrilling adventure, maybe a bit predictable for adults, but I think the target group will love it. It should also raise awareness for the environment and biodiversity. I already know which students I will recommend it to.

It is also the first book in a trilogy about Alex, the other ones are set in Asia and Africa, I had to buy them at once I found out that it was a trilogy.

One thought on “three

  1. Oh! I read that trilogy once, when I was roundabout 13-14, I absolutely loved it! Some part of me want to read them again, but, some other part of me is deadly afraid that if I do so, I will discover that they're not in fact that great.


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