Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: London Calling - Edward Bloor

London Calling by Edward Bloor
Genre: Middle Grade, time travel, supernatural
Published on February 12, 2008
Published by Ember
Pages: 304
Read From: 3.30.12 - 3.30.12

Martin Conway comes from a family filled with heroes and disgraces. His grandfather was a statesman who worked at the US Embassy in London during WWII. His father is an alcoholic who left his family. His sister is an overachieving Ivy League graduate. And Martin? Martin is stuck in between - floundering. 
But during the summer after 7th grade, Martin meets a boy who will change his life forever. Jimmy Harker appears one night with a deceptively simple question: Will you help? 
Where did this boy come from, with his strange accent and urgent request? Is he a dream? It's the most vivid dream Martin's ever had. And he meets Jimmy again and again - but how can his dreams be set in London during the Blitz? How can he wake up with a head full of people and facts and events that he certainly didn't know when he went to sleep - but which turn out to be verifiably real? 
The people and the scenes Martin witnesses have a profound effect on him. They become almost more real to him than his waking companions. And he begins to believe that maybe he can help Jimmy. Or maybe that he must help Jimmy, precisely because all logic and reason argue against it.


At first, I thought that this might be a thrilling ghost story. I mean, it involves the Blitz, a dead London boy asking for help through an old radio, and one of the most fascinating times in history - WWII. There are a lot of directions this story could have taken - and all of them interesting. And I am extremely sorry to say that the direction it settled on is anything but exciting, intriguing, or mysterious. A perfectly good era wasted. There is nothing sinister or even urgent about Jimmy's ghostly plea to Martin. There's no terrifying accident that happened centuries ago that has caused Jimmy to contact Martin, so that Martin can help him. Jimmy just needs Martin to pass on a "it's not your fault" message to a family member, who feels like he's responsible for Jimmy's death, even though he wasn't.

In short, this is an inspirational ghost story. Martin's father has drinking problems, his family is fraying at the edges, he's having difficulties at his school, he's doubting his faith in God (oddly enough, though, this book ends up having a pretty positive Christian message), and people think he's going kind of crazy. Oh, yeah, and there's rather pointless scenes where Martin talks with his girl-obsessed friends. Things do end happily, but it's all inspirational and therefore not all that interesting.

So, if you're looking for a ghost story, this isn't the best pick.

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