With some writers, I feel I just cannot go wrong. Katherine Rundell is one of them. Sure, I like some books more than others, but at the end of each one, I find myself smiling, deeply contented. I didn’t write about the first two books I read by Rundell (The Girl Savage and Rooftoppers), but I did review The Wolf Wilder, which was one of the top ten middle-grade books I read in 2018.
The Explorer began slowly, just like The Wolf Wilder. I took a while to get into the story and feel for the characters – I even read another book in between. Yet, when I came back to The Explorer, I stayed, sucked into the secrets of the jungle.
A six-seater plane crashes into the Amazon rainforest. The pilot dies, leaving four children who barely know one another. There’s Lila, who is fiercely protective of her five-year-old brother Max. Then there’s Con, who seems angry with everyone everything, and is thoroughly uncooperative. And there’s Fred, who always wanted to be an explorer, but realises that he may just have got more than he bargained for. Yet, perhaps, if he survives the jungle, he’ll finally have done something that would make his father proud.
The four children have different priorities; yet, they realise they must work together to have any chance of survival. The forest itself, with its bullet ants, caimans and piranha, seems out to get them.
In a place as dangerous as the Amazon, the children grow to trust one another. Reluctant friendships are forged — and threatened when their survival seems to depend on a decision they can’t agree upon. The adventure, the beauty and the secret at the core of the forest – I loved all of it. But most of all, I loved the writing. I loved how the characters emerged, and the delicious idea that being an explorer is much like paying attention. And paying attention is akin to love.
|Rating (out of 5)||4.5|