Book 1 for 2009: Lionboy by Zizou Corder

I’m not a big fan of talking animals, but this series has been sitting in my TBR shelves for quite a while and I figured it was about time I read it.

Lionboy is a fantasy series about Charlie Ashanti, a nine-year old boy who can speak Cat, who must rely on this special talent and his wits to save his kidnapped parents.

Lionboy is set sometime in the future, when the world’s petroleum resources have all run out. The world reverts to sea travel as the main form of overseas transport, and everything runs on alternative energy; only the very powerful are allowed to have cars. The world is ruled by a superpower known as the Empire, asthma is a widespread condition (blamed on cats) and a pharmaceutical giant known as the Corporacy controls the world’s major industry. Charlie’s parents have discovered the cure for asthma, and the Corporacy has held them captive to safeguard their business.

Although not as engaging as I would have liked it to be, Lionboy, the first book in the series, sustains the interest, especially as Charlie stows away on a circus ship, the Circe, which houses Thibaudet’s Royal Floating Circus and a host of interesting personalities. Charlie forms a friendship with six circus lions and helps them escape, as he gets one step closer to finding his parents.

The cats are particularly amusing, especially the strays, because of their different personalities — a prissy French cat, a wisecracking Russian cat, and an ingenious marmalade. Even the lions are distinct, although they’re all regal.

It’s also worth noting that Zizou Corder is actually the mother-daughter team of English novelist Louisa Young and Isabel Adomakoh Young (middle school age). It’s a good collaboration for an exciting adventure, but also touches on important issues such as the environment, race, and prejudice.

My copy: Puffin trade paperback, mooched from Singapore

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

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