First off, a quick note – sorry about my *ahem* sporadic recent posting, I’m in the midst of exams – first it was GCSE Spanish speaking, tomorrow it’s internal physics, maths and English language on the early exam day and then after a (very busy!) half term, I’ve got a week and then the remaining chunk of exams. Therefore, this unreliable posting system will probably continue until end of June/start of July time roughly, but then I should hopefully be back with full force! I hope you enjoy this very special post…
Hello! I’m delighted to announce that this is the first ever book review that I’ve been asked to do, so thank you very much to Kelsey McBride of Book Publicity Services and to Iain Reading for the opportunity. 🙂 Although I have been asked to review this book and sent a complimentary copy, I will be completely honest with my opinions about Kitty Hawk And The Curse Of The Yukon Gold. Curse Of The Yukon Gold, published in 2012, is the first installment in Canadian Iain Reading’s new YA adventure mystery series, and features teenage pilot Kitty Hawk – described as a cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking. Interestingly, Iain is actually currently living in the Netherlands and working for the United Nations! He also describes his passions as including root beer and music as well as writing.
Here’s a quick description of the plot…
This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon. Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book – it was pretty fast-paced, and once I got going with it I honestly could not put it down. (I blame my mum for that – she reminded me about reading it just as I was going to bed one night, so I picked it up, and then couldn’t put it down again till around midnight when tiredness forced me to! #ProblemsOfABookworm)
However, it did take a while to get going – the backstory about how Kitty got into flying is interesting, but doesn’t particularly help move the plot along. Similarly, Kitty’s relationship with ex-best-friend Amanda Phillpott has only a small role in the story – primarily slightly hindering Kitty’s official takeoff – but there’s quite a detailed backstory that I just felt was unnecessary. In the same vein, I would have liked Kitty’s passion for surfing to become more prominent, after hearing a fairly detailed account of her first ever surfing trip. However, these features of her life, as well as mentions of her best friend Skeena, back home in Tofino are dropped fairly quickly once Kitty’s real adventure gets going – it would’ve perhaps been nice to hear more about what her parents and friends would be doing, their thoughts on Kitty’s adventure or even just a few text messages exchanged (where circumstances of the plot allow).
Another feature that I didn’t particularly like was the chapter length – there were lots of them (eighty-two, plus prologue parts 1 + 2, epilogue parts 1 + 2 and chapter zero), and they were rarely more than a few pages long. Although this did make it easy to keep reading and gave lots of opportunity for cliffhangers, I felt like sometimes the constant interruption meant key parts of the plot didn’t all hang together well and flow as smoothly as they would have if they were in the same chapter. Some more on the gold robbery before Kitty gets involved would also be good, just to remind the reader and give a suggestion Kitty might end up having something to do with it – though this could just be me, as there was a bit of a gap between reading the first few chapters and getting really engrossed in the plot. The only other thing (and this is me being really picky), is that I love the title font on the cover of the book, and the author name font on the spine, but the fonts aren’t the same! If you look at the cover, you’ll probably see what I mean. It’s a small thing, but it bugs me because I love the two fonts and think they would look awesome together!
I also would have liked to see more of Kitty’s personality earlier on – it’s only after she finds herself in a life-or-death situation that, in my opinion, her character really begins to shine through. That said, when it does begin to come through, it’s very realistic – there were very few moments when I caught myself mentally raising my eyebrows at the improbability of something. I think it’s pretty impressive for an author to convincingly portray a nineteen year old pilot who’s been allowed to spend all summer studying whales and then gets caught up in what should be a highly unlikely situation. In truth, I think all the characters are realistically written – the criminals have a relatably human side to them (or maybe that’s just a subconscious yearning of mine for a life of deception and hiding from the police?), and Edward seems like a typical, easily persuaded young adult – he makes mistakes, which I guess is something a lot of people can relate well to.
On a more physical level, less to do with the story itself, I liked the way there were chapter titles (although maybe chapter titles and numbers wasn’t necessary) and the occasional maps to help the reader get a tangible sense of what Kitty was going through. I also liked the way text messages were portrayed, separately and in bold – it all just added another dimension to reading the book.
All in all, I really enjoyed Kitty Hawk And The Curse Of The Yukon Gold – especially the repeating hawk motif, the fast-paced plot (once the action really began, anyway), and the believable qualities of the characters. The epilogue of the book got me hooked for the next one in the series – I’m going to do some research, and with any luck it’ll be coming to a library near me in the not-too-distant future! I’m going to give Kitty Hawk 3.5 stars out of 5 this time round, for a fast paced plot and fun characters. I would recommend it to people probably up to the age of 16 maximum and down to maybe 10? In all honesty, I think this book is fairly open-ended, age-range wise, that’s just the range I think would be best suited to it – middle grade/YA. The cover art does indicate more of a middle-grade readership, though, in my opinion. If you enjoy a bit of history mixed together with crime and detectives, this book’s for you! If you’re interested, you can visit Kitty Hawk’s website here, or Iain Reading’s here, and you can buy a copy yourself off of Amazon here.
Have you read Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold, or would you now like to? Let me know down in the comments!