Friday, August 22, 2008

Book Review: The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner

I didn't know how long I had been in the king's prison. The days were all the same, except that as each one passed, I was dirtier than before... ...I reviewed over and over the plans that had seemed so straightforward before I arrived in jail, and I swore to myself and every god I knew that if I got out alive, I would never never never take any risks that were so abysmally stupid again.

Gen is a thief who delights in bragging to any who will hear that, "I can steal anything." The prison guards delight in reminding him of that boast each time they pass his cell, taunting him with questions about why he hadn't escaped yet. But one day, the king's magus, a scholar, summons Gen from his cell. "There's something I want you to steal. Do this for me, and I'll see that you don't go back to prison. Fail to do this for me, and I will still make sure that you don't go back to prison." And so begins the long and dangerous journey...

For Teachers and Librarians: 
The Thief is a young adult novel that will grab teens' attention and never let it go. It will appeal to both guys and gals, having the perfect mixture of action, mystery, and emotion. Megan Whalen Turner is a master storyteller, giving the reader just enough clues to keep it interesting, but not enough to give anything away before she's ready to have it known. Set in a place that resembles both ancient and modern Greece, the author notes that "Nothing in this book is historically accurate." However, your students will come across references to the bubonic plague, weaponry, printed and bound books, the landscape, monarchy, and even watches. These make for the perfect comparison and contrast to what ancient and modern Greece are really like, as well as research opportunities into when in history these things actually appeared and how they worked. The book is a good springboard into Greek mythology, as well, since Greek-like gods are intertwined in the plot. But most of all, your students will be hooked from the very first sentence. A definite page-turner.

For Parents:
If you struggle with how to get books in the hands of your teens, you are not alone. There is steep competition out there: ipods, internet, gaming, texting, videos, TV. It seems as if there's no room to wedge even the slimmest of volumes in between, but take heart. The Thief may be just what you need. It is a timeless story, with action, drama and suspense. It has the feel of an adult book, but it's still a book for teens, so you can feel good about what they're reading. It is a story that will pull them in right away, and they won't want to put it down. And best of all, it has two sequels, with another in the works, so once they devour this story, you have two more options to keep their noses in a good book - at least for a little while...

For Teens:
This is so not a kiddie book. And it's not a crud-my-English-teacher-is-making-me-read-a-total-yawner book. Gen is a thief who brags that he can steal anything. When he steals something way valuable that everyone thought couldn't be done, he shows it off - and is arrested. But while he's in the king's prison, chained and dirty, the king's magus summons him and gives him an offer he can't refuse: to steal something that has not been stolen or even found for hundreds of years. If he succeeds, he earns his freedom. If he fails, he won't go back to prison either, but... well, you get what I mean. Gen accepts, but not for the reason the magus thinks he does. You have to go find The Thief and read it. You will be so glad you did, and bonus! There are two more sequels, and author Megan Whalen Turner is working on a fourth.

For Everyone Else:
Though this is a young adult novel, it will appeal to adults as well. Set in what feels like Greece, though it isn't Greece, it feels timeless, and is riddled with mystery and sprinkled with clues set up to keep you always searching for more. In fact, there are so many twists and turns that you'll want to read The Thief again. And maybe even again.

Wrapping Up:
The Thief is the perfect marriage of suspense, intrigue, mystery and emotion. Find your copy today. 

Title: The Thief
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
Pages: 219
Reading Level: Teen/Young Adult
Publisher and Date: Penguin Group, 1998
Edition: Paperback
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $5.99
ISBN-10: 0140388346
ISBN-13: 978-0140388343

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