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I think I finished this book about 1-2 weeks ago; the only problem is that it took that long to request for it and get it submitted on here. I can't say I blame Dooyoo, due to the fact that I did finish this book not long after Christmas, and therefore I had tons of time to read, unlike nowadays where I do not have much time and just grab as much of it as I can.
I have to own up to something, however, and that happens to be that I have read this book twice now. I took it out of the school library to read (and write a really short opinion on the book, so that it could possibly win the KS3 award), however I incredibly enjoyed reading it and I had the opportunity to buy it, along with the sequel: "The Fighting Pit". There is a third book in this series, but I am not planning on getting it anytime soon because of a number of different reasons varying from me not having enough money, and I already have too many books to read and therefore I don't think I can read them all very quickly, so I presume the book will become cheaper as the longer I take finishing off the books I've got at the moment.
The series is called "The Bear Kingdom", and it is created by an author called Michael Coleman. I wouldn't say he is a popular author, let alone a famous one. But I shall say that he's writing technique doesn't interest me, I can put this book down for way too long and easily come back to the story. I think that makes an author's book pretty rubbish due to the fact that a story should be soooooooo gripping that you will not put the book down to do something else, I prefer books that you just stop eating and drinking and watching television, just so that you can finish the book. Michael has written a number of books, many I haven't even heard of let alone read. I shall not be going anywhere near them, no matter how much persuasion might be influenced upon me, I just don't like reading Michael Coleman, and would prefer reading something like "Meg Cabot". I like the story line to this book and can't wait to start reading the sequel, however it is incredibly hard to understand as he doesn't explain what's happening, all the characters was totally mixed up and I had to re-read the "What if...?" at the start of the book to understand it.
So what's the "what if...?", well I would like to type it all out and it's only short but then it might spoil the book slightly, I want to copy it, but then I also feel as if I'm cheating on my reviews and just copying and pasting, which I do not want to do. So I have decided that I shall just mention what it's about slightly! I presume that Michael was thinking about the past, such as Dinosaurs and cave men, et cetera. And then I think he just came up with this idea, and thought of it. He must have been thinking of when cave men killed and fought against big cave bears, to survive. The cave men happened to win but what if they had lost?
That's basically the "what if...?", and the annoying part about it is that I had to keep that in my mind, if I did not and came back to the book later on, I would be totally confused. See the "What If...?" doesn't even pass for an introduction let alone a prologue, and in this book you did need a prologue to understand it, as it just jumped you straight into the story. I ended up believing that the cave bears was our height and the humans ended up being 5cm tall, that really what helped me get in through the story, but every time I cam back to it, the sizes were different again. They just ended up being that way round, the cave bears being bigger. Only I couldn't possibly imagine the humans being our size, because then I ended up making the bears "Teddy Bear" size, which I believe wasn't right. I also couldn't imagine the cave bears being about 9ft or 10 ft tall, the tallest they could be (in my imagination) was about 5-6ft, which wasn't what Michael wanted us to believe. However, I don't think anyone in this world has ever seen a cave bear only in animation or on TV which wouldn't be real anyway! But what I am saying is, is that I don't have the capability to imagine a bear that big, and for this book to work for me I ended up having the bears our size and humans, only about 5cm.
Anyway, the book starts off with Benjamin Wildfire, being our main character. He has a terrible life as he is a slave for Mrs Haggard, a cave bear, and the owner of Benjamin. He's life is terrible, so he decides to make a run for it and try to find Hide-Park, a park where humans run free and where no bears can go near. He gains a friend (who at first he thinks she's really annoying) called MOPS, short for Millicent Ophelia Patience Snubnose. She escaped with Benjamin as she could no longer take being spoilt and watched all the time, she wanted to roam free, not be stuck somewhere, where she can't be happy. Except, the adventure for MOPS and Benjamin, is more terrifying for them, than being slaves for Mrs Haggard and that's saying something. They are captured and sent to the sinister Howling Tower, but can they survive?
I have way too many queries about this book, one is that Benjamin is always called Benjamin, I know that's he's name, but why would any Benjamin liked to be called that, they'd all would prefer to be called Ben. But then again I presume it suites the character to some extent. Another query is that: Why did Michael make the bears really dumb? I would have thought that Cave bears were pretty smart, they too fought a battle against the cave men, they may not have won but it must have been one hell of a fight, also it's unfair on the cave bears, because of the cave men were able to create stakes and stuff like that, which the bears only had their claws, and in order to hurt the cave men they'd have to come near them. I know I really shouldn't be backing up the bears' side, but if you are going to create a story try to make it as realistic as possible. I could carry on with my queries but I am not intending to bore you out of you brain.
I have 2 complaints, you have already heard my first one which I talked about at the start of this review, and that was about the understanding of the book; however the second one can be classed under the subject of understanding. Michael must have confused himself creating this story due to the fact that when it was time for the bears to speak, he had to re-order the words the bears would use for example: instead of Mrs Haggard saying "be quick" she says: "Quick-be", okay so that isn't too bad and it's very easy to understand, but there are part of the book in which there's one whole paragraph of speech from a cave bear, and I couldn't put up with trying to rearrange the words to understand them, and I gave up on reading some bits as they were way too mind-boggling. I have to say I was happy to finish the book due to no more bear-talk!
Now you must think by now that I think this book is rubbish, but I do not think that, hence my 4-star rating. This is because I enjoyed reading this book enough that I had to go out and buy it to re-read, the story line is brilliant and I don't think anyone else could come up with such an idea. I am not saying that it should win any awards, I'm merely saying that you should think twice about this book, I may have put you off, but there isn't much bear-talk in the book as the central characters are MOPS and Benjamin, and also once you have fixed yourself upon the way life is in this book, you'll skim through the book amazingly well, you'll love the amazing story-line and it may get you thinking, thank God life's not like that.
This book is a book of friendship, of how to be and how not to be a good friend. It's also a good example of the saying "don't judge a book by it's cover", I am not talking about the book in particular, I'm on about the characters within the book, and Benjamin didn't want to know MOPS as he found her really annoying at the start but this all changes and he sees her for a true friend. I would agree with the age rating, which is 8-12 year olds, as they are at the stage in which they might have fallen out with a close friend and they don't know what they did wrong, one read of this will magically help them realise what they did wrong. I do recommend this to anyone, but I recommend it more to people who have recently split up with a friend and they don't know what they did wrong!
I hope I have helped you and I would like to see more reviews on this book, but if you think this book is not for you fair enough.