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Brother in the Land - Robert Swindells

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Genre: Junior Books / Author: Robert Swindells / Edition: New Ed / Paperback / 160 Pages / Book is published 1998-05-21 by Oxford University Press

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    8 Reviews
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      09.02.2011 23:45

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      I read this book when i was 11 (18 years ago), i was holiday with my son and the purple people eater song came on and reminded me of this fantastic book.I would recommend a book called The Passage by Justin Cronin, it's just as good but for adults!

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      21.06.2009 18:43
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      A ok book spoilt by its ending(s)

      The book brother in the land describes a nuclear holocaust and the effect it would have on a 14ish year old boy. The book was written by Robert Swindells.
      The book starts off well and is very descriptive, you can clearly see how good the authors imagination is by the way that he writes the book. He uses short paragraphs well but I don't think this book needed short paragraphs as they made the book very slow to read and not very smooth. As a result of this it didn't flow as well as it could/ should have done.
      The book as I have said is descriptive and Robert Swindells makes us "live" through Danny (one of the main characters, along with Kim and Ben) and you can really get engrossed in the book. Every detail is well written and thought through but saying this, the book could have been twice as long and just as good if not better.
      The ending of the book really lets the book down. The original ending happens when you are just really into the book. So it just stops and you are left with a feeling of major disappointment because you think that it needs to be continued, maybe a sequel a few years after, but Robert Swindells hasn't to date written a sequel and probably won't. He did however carry on this book with a new very short chapter which looked like it had taken 5 minutes to write. In the new chapter the two young people Kim and Danny carry on their story. They find an island off the coast of mainland Britain called holy island where they "live happily ever after" Which is very unrealistic. The truth is that they would die of hunger or starvation or radiation poisoning, because if a bomb was dropped on nearly all the center of population there would be massive quantities of radiation everywhere they went. The newer ending was only 2/3 pages longer than the older one so it really wasn't worth bothering to write the extra paragraph as it didn't really add anything to the story and it just carried on the disappointment. The book had great potential to be a great book and in the end it wasn't (in my opinion) even a good book.

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      14.01.2006 11:02
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      Post-apocalyptic, gripping story, great characters, extremely depressing subject

      Brother in the Land, by Robert Swindles, is one of a great many books set in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. It is very touching but, given its subject matter, is understandably very sad. There are moments of hope, but the theme of the book is a depressing one. It's a children's book, but better for older children I feel. Not overly long, it shouldn't take too long to read.

      It deals in a very realistic way about issues such as sharing out of food and whether people would work together or compete for resources. The concepts in the book are very believable and seen through the eyes of characters with whom the reader will be sympathetic.

      ~~~ The Plot ~~~
      Danny is a kid whose parents own a shop. When nuclear bombs fall, his mum is killed, but he survives along with his dad and his little brother Ben. Because of the shop, they have food for now and shyare it out with some of their friends. But others are struggling to find things to eat, and it won't be long before they have to fight to keep what's theirs.

      Everyone in the town is waiting for the authorities to arrive, but when they do come, they don't bring help. They have food, so why should they share it?

      The authorities set up a farm and get the civilians to work like slaves for food. Some refuse to join and groups form. When their dad is killed, Danny and Ben join a group that are fighting the authorities and trying to let everyone have an equal share of the food and resources.

      In a world that's been poisoned by radiation, people still form communities and find friends, but there's a lot to fight when even the earth and air can be deadly.

      ~~~ The Characters ~~~
      The characters are very well realised, from Ben, who's still young enough to want to play, Danny, who's optimistic enough to believe they'll find a way back to a better world, and Kim, who realises the world they're in better than they do and will fight for her survival along with the others.

      There is a mixture of characters who appear in the book, all with their different strategies of coping with the world they now live in. Robert Swindles does well and capturing the varying reactions that people would have, from those who want to help everyone, to those who will leave others to starve as long as they're safe themselves. They are all very realistic, perhaps too much so as the reader is forced to admit that yes, there are people who would be that selfish, or act in such an evil way.

      ~~~ The Writing ~~~
      The story is told in the first person, written by Danny some time after the bombs fall. This allows him to reflect on events that shocked and appalled him with the eyes of one who's come to terms with it. This gives it a very haunting style.

      Because of the way it is written, Swindles is able to give hints about what is to come: "I wish he was still there now." This makes the book difficult to put down, because you want to know what will happen next.

      This style of writing always annoys me slightly, since no one remembers ever word of a conversation they had years ago, but Danny is able to write it out exactly. But, this is something I find fault with in a lot of books and it doesn't detract from the novel as a whole, so I was able to put aside my pedantry and enjoy the story.

      There is also the very depressing tone that suggests, as Danny's writing, he knows that it may be no one will ever read it. He is writing, knowing that the human race may die or that the world may never recover. This is an extremely depressing way that brings home the enormity of the subject matter.

      A nice thing about the way Swindles tackles the subject, is by inventing terms. People are always coming up with new words for things, or adapting old words to fit new situations. That is what is done in the books, with people who hole up with supplies being called Badgers. Then there are the Spacers, who have come unhinged because they can't cope with the situation. As the book goes on, Swindles introduces the reader to Purples and Terminals, giving a vivid picture of a new society formed out of the ruins of the old.

      ~~~ Overall ~~~
      This is definitely not a light-hearted book. The language is easy to read, but the subject matter isn't. Older children might enjoy it, or adults looking for something that isn't too difficult.

      I wouldn't recommend it for young children unless they're the sort who like being upset from start to finish.

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        10.05.2003 18:40
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        “Nothing stirred, not even a cat. I could have fancied a nice bit of cat.” By the time I read this sentence, I wasn’t even shocked. At this stage of the story, the reader is pretty much resigned to the futility of the situation and no, you won’t find a happy ending. But I have started at the end here and most of you are probably lost by now, so let me explain… Those of us of a certain age will remember Threads – the shocking film, which depicted the effects of a nuclear bomb hitting an English city. Brother in the Land is almost the book equivalent. Danny Lodge is an ordinary lad. He lives in Skipley with his parents and younger brother, Ben. They own a shop. They are a normal family. They lead a normal life. Or at least, they do until important people far away decide to launch nuclear missiles at each other. Suddenly their lives are completely changed. They are living in a world that not only looks different, but it has hidden dangers too as the levels of radiation penetrate everything, killing slowly. There are few intact buildings, few animals and only a few hundred survivors. But are they really the lucky ones? As the Skipley community – what remains of it – survive as best they can, they cling on to the government brochure which promised them help if the worst ever happened. But when people do arrive, they turn up in armoured vehicles, brandishing guns and wearing fall-out protection suits. What is it they are promising now? Would you trust them? Do you have a choice? The majority of the novel concentrates on the aftermath and how the survivors cope. This threw up all sorts of questions in my head and made me pursue lines of thought I hadn’t previously explored. The book itself paints a picture of new groups or the re-emergence of old ones. Even when it seems obvious for people to group together, divisions emerge. Who takes charge and why? What
        are their motives? If you have limited food, would you feed everyone for a month or your own family for a year? Do you feed the sick and dying at all? There are optimistic parts to the story – love survives, families look after one another, new friendships are made, people work together. But survival also brings out the worst in people and we see ruthlessness, selfishness, and a developed society reverting to pre-Neanderthal behaviour. The new society creates a new vocabulary. People become labelled with names, which dehumanise them. So we have Spacers, Badgers, Goths and Purples. These labels enable others to treat them in ways, which would have been previously unacceptable. If they are an enemy species, it becomes easier to shoot them down in cold blood. The bomb itself takes up only a small part of the book, but I think these early chapters were the most shocking. Being anti-war myself, these scenes reminded me why. You know the way we sometimes watch the News, shake our heads at politicians and are sure we are the ones with the right answers, the sensible solutions? This book convinced me. It often seems that world leaders get carried away on a tide, that they get swept up in a torrent and hurled away towards one side or another. The recent war in Iraq was a case in point. Sometimes I was sure Blair and Bush must have been scratching their heads and thinking “How did we get here?” Well, Blair anyway. The novel is not only a good story and one which needs to be told, but the book has so many dimensions to it that it is these questions raised which will ultimately stay with you, longer than the memory of Danny and his family. Although the story is a tragic one, I didn’t find myself reduced to tears as I have been with other books – The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis being the most recent example. I am not sure whether this is because the characters in Brother in the Land were less well developed
        or whether I have become desensitised to this kind of thing, thanks to a diet of live news reports from war-torn countries. I hope it’s the former. The novel is short at only 150 pages and is easy to read, although not an easy read – if you see what I mean. I finished the whole book in a day, which was also helped by the chapters being very short and the desire to know what would happen next. The book is marketed as teenage fiction and won awards in this genre following its publication in 1984. It did not feel like a book that was too young for me though, it does not use an overly simple vocabulary or ‘dumbed down’ in any way, it is just seen through the eyes of a teenage boy – but one we all come to relate to, especially as his role becomes very similar to that of a parent. Brother in the Land is certainly not bedtime reading for your seven-year-old, but older children should read it. I am going to recommend it to my eleven year old son who spent half of the war in Iraq shouting “No more war!” and the other half proclaiming the solution would be to “Nuke ‘em!” I don’t think any reader of this book would utter that phrase again, only with complete disgust. On a larger scale, books like these make teenagers think and hopefully, they might help future generations to be less trigger-happy than our present day leaders. Thanks to Andrea (tange) for writing her review of this book, which led me to borrow it from the library and read it myself.

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          30.04.2003 22:12
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          I first read Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells a good number of years ago. I borrowed a copy from the library and was instantly impressed the writing and unsettling subject matter. When I was asked to read the new edition, to review for the library I now work at I agreed, and prepared to reacquaint myself with a classic book of my teenage years. ~~~THE AUTHOR. Robert Swindells has been a full-time author since 1980, but did write before that (his first book was written as part of his teacher training course). He hails from Bradford in Yorkshire ~ in fact a lot of his stories are set around this area. Robert Swindells was born in 1939 and before he took up writing he has been in the RAF, a clerk, an engineer, a publisher and a trainee teacher. He even worked on his local newspaper for while when he was a teenager. Since becoming an author he has written loads of books ~ I can't pretend to have read all of them, but I have really enjoyed the ones I have come across. Of the selection I have read, my favourites have been: ABOMINATION (PUBLISHED 1998) TIMESNATCH (PUBLISHED 1994) ROOM 13 (PUBLISHED 1989) ~~~BROTHER IN THE LAND. BACKGROUND~~~ Brother in the Land was first published in 1984. It has won the Children's Book Award, The Other Award, and was highly commended for The Carnegie Medal. THE STORY~~~ Brother in the Land centres around the character of a teenage boy (Danny) who somehow manages to survive a nuclear attack. Danny, along with his younger brother Ben, must learn and fight to survive in a society that has been torn apart. After originally thinking that they have been lucky to be alive, they soon begin to realise that living is going to be the hardest job of all! Danny has to grow up fast and to protect himself and those around him, in a world where only the strongest and most cunning will keep going. In among all this gloom and fear, t
          here is also a love story developing between Danny and a girl called Kim. There is also an element of hope too ~ maybe if Danny and his "family" can survive, society can grow and survive too! WHAT I THOUGHT! ~~~ At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that Brother in the Land is going to be depressing and sad. It IS ultimately a story of a Post-Apocalyptic world and thus isn't going to be a happy smiley sort of book, but there is a lot more to it than just fights and tears. Brother in the Land is a powerful and well written book that is told using the language of a teenage boy. There are things HE doesn't understand and his fears and confusion make him a believable three-dimensional character. It is in this that the success of the book as a whole rests ~ as the pages turn, I begin to identify with Danny, to care what happens to him and finally to share a glimmer of hope with him. A few people in our review group described it as a bleak and depressing book ~ I suppose it is, but it is also a moving and interesting journey; Danny's development and adaptability make it "real" too. The use of the first person narrative (the book is written using Danny as the "voice") makes it easy to read and get into. It IS a harrowing journey, but one that draws you in and maintains your interest throughout. The pictures Swindells paints in your mind are often painful and quite disturbing, but they only strengthen the need to see Danny adapt and survive. What Danny must face made me feel happy with the life and comforts I possess. I also found myself wondering how my morals would change and just how far I would go to stay alive ~ I was left wondering if I would rather have died in the initial bomb blast than have to suffer so much hardship. Brother in the Land, although marketed as a Children's Book, is probably more suited to older children and teenagers. We read it at s
          chool too (in conjunction with watching Threads and When the Wind Blows) ~ as a supervised educational tool it is probably suitable for those of aged 11 and above. It provides much scope for discussion and is extremely thought provoking. When you have finished reading this book you will be pretty drained and at first wonder why you put yourself through it, but when people ask me if I can recommend a good book for teenagers, I still find myself singing its praises! This is a brilliantly written novel that was well worth reading again. I'm really glad that I was given the push to live Danny's life once more! ~~~PUBLISHING INFO. Paperback - 160 pages (21 May, 1998) Oxford University Press; ISBN: 0192717855 Book: Paperback | 129 x 198mm | 160 pages | ISBN 0140373004 | Dec 1994 | Puffin It is currently available on Amazon for £5.59 and from the Puffin web-site (http://www.puffin.co.uk/Book/BookFrame/0,1007,,00.html?id=0140373004) for £5.99. The hardback version was currently out of stock.

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            13.08.2001 05:00
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            I had to read this book years ago as a class project, I decided to write about it because I dug it out of the cupboard yesterday. The main story of the book is about a boy Danny Lodge who is around 15-17 years old, his little brother about 7 and a girl called Kim. At the beginning of the book it describes how peaceful the world is, until a war brakes out between the East of the World and the West. Nuclear bombs are dropped on countries including England. Danny Lodge and Co all get involved as Nuclear Bomb is dropped 5 miles away on a town called Branford and they live in a town called Skiply. This shows one of the problems as there are a lot of technical errors in the book. The bomb that was dropped on Branford badly effects Skiply. Danny was lucky as he was in a bunker and save from radiation but was his family ok. The main story begins when Danny is trying to race towards his town to check on is family. One of the family members is dead put which one? I will let you find out, it is a good book. As the plot begins to thicken you start to find out about many other types of people such as “Greasers” and “Badgers”. There are also other types of people such as people who have a “Creeping Dose”. This is radiation sickness where they get worse and worse till they die. They are many types of organisations such as MASADA and the Army. The Army doesn’t help anyone, they poison the food they give them, and set up work camps. They just use the people of Skiply. Danny Develops relationships easily so he is a very caring person. He looks after his brother a lot and tries to help when he gets ill. He develops a relationship with a girl called Kim and a boyfriend girlfriend relationship develops. He is very assertive in the way he acts. He tries to help even if he knows he has not got a chance of winning, he just does it to help people. He helps Kim out of trouble. He is not aggress
            ive though, as he had to stop Kim from killing her attackers. The book itself is well written. Even though it is only 150+ pages long it would class as a children’s novel but is still a good book for adults to read as it has lots of long words. The book could be finished in one night. This is because you cant put the book down. This story however technically wrong still brings to mind the terrors, which a Nuclear Holocaust could bring. It would mean the world would be kill or be killed, friends would be enemies. So like it says on the cover “Which is worse? To perish in a nuclear attack? Or to survive?” Chris

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              18.06.2001 04:48
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              I had to read this book years ago as a class project, I decided to write about it because I dug it out of the cupboard yesterday. The main story of the book is about a boy Danny Lodge who is around 15-17 years old, his little brother about 7 and a girl called Kim. At the beginning of the book it describes how peaceful the world is, until a war brakes out between the East of the World and the West. Nuclear bombs are dropped on countries including England. Danny Lodge and Co all get involved as Nuclear Bomb is dropped 5 miles away on a town called Branford and they live in a town called Skiply. This shows one of the problems as there are a lot of technical errors in the book. The bomb that was dropped on Branford badly effects Skiply. Danny was lucky as he was in a bunker and save from radiation but was his family ok. The main story begins when Danny is trying to race towards his town to check on is family. One of the family members is dead put which one? I will let you find out, it is a good book. As the plot begins to thicken you start to find out about many other types of people such as “Greasers” and “Badgers”. There are also other types of people such as people who have a “Creeping Dose”. This is radiation sickness where they get worse and worse till they die. They are many types of organisations such as MASADA and the Army. The Army doesn’t help anyone, they poison the food they give them, and set up work camps. They just use the people of Skiply. Danny Develops relationships easily so he is a very caring person. He looks after his brother a lot and tries to help when he gets ill. He develops a relationship with a girl called Kim and a boyfriend girlfriend relationship develops. He is very assertive in the way he acts. He tries to help even if he knows he has not got a chance of winning, he just does it to help people. He helps Kim out of trouble. He is not aggress
              ive though, as he had to stop Kim from killing her attackers. The book itself is well written. Even though it is only 150+ pages long it would class as a children’s novel but is still a good book for adults to read as it has lots of long words. The book could be finished in one night. This is because you cant put the book down. This story however technically wrong still brings to mind the terrors, which a Nuclear Holocaust could bring. It would mean the world would be kill or be killed, friends would be enemies. So like it says on the cover “Which is worse? To perish in a nuclear attack? Or to survive?” Chris

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                25.09.2000 04:18
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                Brother In The Land By Robert Swindells “Which is worse? To perish in a nuclear attack? Or to survive?” Danny Lodge, his brother and his dad are three of the ‘lucky’ ones, they survive the holocaust. To continue surviving, they will need to adopt the ‘kill or be killed’ attitude that may actually help the world to rebuild. The Earth has become a desperate place where every one fights to keep what is theirs, and many will fight to take what isn’t. When the authorities finally arrive, far from bringing help, they take all the food, kill off the elderly and the sick, taking those that are fit to work at a camp so horrific it is nicknamed ‘Belsen’ In the midst of all the horror, Danny meets Kim. Tougher than him, and adapting well to the new ‘us versus them’ life, Danny falls in love, and vows to make a place for them, somewhere in this new and hostile world. A tremendously well written and touching story, vividly depicting the true horror of nuclear war. The part of the book that sticks most in my head is this; “Suddenly then, everybody went quiet, except for about three people around the musician. They began singing this song, all about our situation. I can’t remember it now. Only the last bit, a couple of lines that brought tears to my eyes and echoed in my skull all night when I went to bed: ‘…echoes will answer the names they will call, and ashes will smother the tears as they fall.’ That’s how it was. Even when we thought we were happy, we were thinking of what we had lost.”

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            • Product Details

              Post-holocaust drama in the North of England.