Monday, 13 January 2014

Book Review: Rebecca's World by Terry Nation

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This book has the distinction of being the first book I ever loaned at the library. It stood out because it was one of those in a rack, not a shelf, and although it had the promotional strapline of 'by Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks', I wondered if I had not stumbled upon the wrong kind of book.

(I was never a Doctor Who fan and the current mania about it still hasn't swayed me, but anyway....)

The book is simply told, but has engaging characters and a plot which makes you want to keep going to see what happens next.

I was eight years old when first reading this, and now, I must have completed it for the umpteenth time, it's a book that, despite its age, never gets old.

Rebecca is bored. Rebecca is not allowed to go up to one of the rooms in the house 'because her father keeps expensive equipment there.' Quite why Rebecca appears to be on her own is uncertain, but she takes her chance and goes in the room anyway.

There's a telescope there, much bigger than Rebecca herself, and she peers through it, and becomes fixated on this one star. As she looks, the star gets closer, and suddenly, she finds herself transported out of the room, onto this planet, the 'World' of the title.

It's easy to see why it's called Rebecca's World. She is one hell of a confident eight year old, and goes from adventure to adventure without losing her mind. Initially, when she finds herself in the room with some mad scientist (aren't they all, but then, without them, where would we be?!) who is very cross with her and informs her that he won't be able to send her home, Rebecca cries. A lot. This makes the scientist even more mad and cross with her, so she is forced out of his lab until such time as he can find a way to send her home.

Along the way, Rebecca meets Grisby, a man who wears more than one overcoat (I counted four at one point) and owns the 'most painful feet in the universe.' Kovak is a spy who, despite his many disguises, everyone can tell it is him. Finally, there's Captain 'K', who owns the only GHOST stick in the world.

Oh. So finally, a plot! 

It turns out that a very nasty man, Mister Glister, is the richest man in this world, and as he explains to our heroine most seriously, 'I've made it my life's work to make everyone poor', and he has done it by burning all the trees down in the world to feed his industry and make himself rich. Some of the shelters from the said GHOSTS are made of the wood from these trees, but given Mister Glister's over the top approach to construction, there stands only one tree in this world, and it is guarded by the GHOSTS.

Captain 'K', however, owns a GHOST stick...a weedy twig, really, but one zap / kerpow / thunk in the direction of a GHOST, they 'pop' and disappear. hence why Mister Glister would like to have it for himself.

Rebecca and her new friends hatch a plan to get the map to this last tree (in Mister Glister's possession) to save the people of the world, and Rebecca hopes by then that she would find a way back home.

This is where the book really kicks off and we meet all manner of nasties, the Silkies, the Bad Habits, the Tongue Twister Monster.

If you haven't read this story, you really should. Rebecca seems more grown up than most eight year olds, which makes the plot (reading as an adult) more believeable.

Do I ask too much from a children's book? Probably. But this remains one of the best examples of a simple story executed brilliantly. 

Seek out a copy and enjoy it!