Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Review: The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: January 7th, 2010
Grade rating: B
A very natural and honest version of life's events from the perspective of a young girl - from her suspicions about her neighbours, to her rocky friendship with the girl next door; from the sudden death of her beloved granny to her relentless quest for a pet hamster, only to then find it mysteriously slaughtered - which kickstarts a local investigation of 'suspects'.
The Great Hamster Massacre isn't a YA book, but it won the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize this year, so I was eager to give it a go and see just why it's so highly regarded.
Putting myself in a 9-year-old's shoes for a minute, I can see why they'd love this twisted tale of dead hamsters and detective-style investigations. It's fast-paced, fun and informative, and even a little gruesome in parts, which should go down well with the boys. It's accompanied by some lovely illustrations drawn by Hannah Shaw, and has an aesthetically pleasing layout and design that even my non-reading sister liked the look of.
I liked all the characters Davies created, even mad old Mr. Tucker who lives next door to Anna and Tom. The hamsters themselves, although sadly dead for most of the novel, have great personalities, and I loved how the mystery of their untimely deaths unfolded. I never expected the story to have a crime element to it, so was pleasantly surprised by the humorour suspect questioning that takes place. I would have liked the end of the book to have more of a resolution, and to tell us a definite reason for the massacre. Something is strongly implied, but never set in stone. Still, I don't think it's anything younger readers will have a problem with, especially not when faced with such an unusual story.
I wish more books like this had been around when I was younger, because I would have read them for sure. I've always liked a good murder mystery!