BOOK REC: Hollowpox (Nevermoor #3) – Jessica Townsend

Author: Jessica Townsend (twitter)

UK Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

Genre: Fantasy, kids’s fiction

See Also: Nevermoor | Wundersmith

Morrigan Crow is decided, daring and prepared for a brand new problem: to step into her future as a Wundersmith, grasp the mysterious Wretched Arts, and management the facility that threatens to devour her. She and her buddies are proud to be of their second 12 months of attendance on the magical Wundrous Society, and collectively they’ll face something.

But an odd sickness has taken maintain of Nevermoor, turning its peaceful Wunimals into senseless, vicious unnimals on the hunt. As victims of the Hollowpox multiply, panic spreads. And with the town she loves in a state of concern, Morrigan shortly realises it’s as much as her to discover a treatment for the Hollowpox, even when it is going to put her – and the remainder of Nevermoor – in additional hazard than ever earlier than…

So, okay, I’ve spoken in earlier critiques about how a lot I flipping love these books. And I’d been saving this one as a result of I knew it will be a enjoyable, enjoyable, gratifying learn for when issues have been getting tough. I struggled with February and March this 12 months, greater than I anticipated, so I believed “Aha! Break glass and administer Hollowpox.”

Ahahaha. Oh pricey.

The technique of printing a guide is kind of a long-winded one. This guide got here out in October 2020. It could have been despatched to the printers about three or 4 months earlier than that, so June/July time. Which means it is going to have been despatched to manufacturing for typesetting just a few months earlier than THAT, to permit time for proofreading – so, March or April. Which means the ultimate manuscript, copy-edited and able to go, was most likely in preparation for manufacturing in late February?

Late February 2020.

There is not any approach that, when this guide was written (throughout 2019, probably even 2018), Jessica Townsend might have predicted precisely how the world was going to vary and the way individuals have been going to react to it, however after I was studying it I had to return and examine the publication date and do some psychological arithmetic as a result of oof, lads. It’s uncannily on the nostril. It’s nonetheless a improbable guide, however simply… brace yourselves guys.

There’s a mysterious sickness that spreads round a sure subset of the inhabitants, and no-one is aware of what’s inflicting it. There are harsh authorities restrictions put in place to curb the unfold, however individuals protest towards them. There are conspiracy theorists, individuals appearing out of aggression in direction of the Wunimals, who they blame for the sickness, and the Wundrous Society who they see as complicit. There is dangerous religion media protection, political chicanery, and seeing all of the worst of society because it turns into extra divided and tribal. There is even criticism of individuals espousing concepts to guard a minority with out contemplating the minority they need to defend.

I spoke in my evaluate of Wundersmith how a lot I loved Jessica Townsend’s approach of addressing ethical gray areas. I nonetheless do! This guide scales up properly for the addition 12 months’s age of her readers (assuming, naturally, that the readers choose this up at a price of 1 guide per college 12 months), and provides a wider sense of how the world isn’t essentially honest or form, and the way that may play out. I actually loved seeing that in Morrigan as properly – she isn’t the bastion of Good and Right round which all this nonsense billows, she is as flawed and gray because the world round her, and her choices replicate her need to do proper however the execution displays her restricted understanding of the world (and the way it’s formed from her traumatic childhood).

Had this guide come out in another 12 months, at another time, I’d be crowing about it. I nonetheless am! To some extent. The parallels are SO stark on this, and whereas maybe the racial discrimination component wasn’t precisely delicate to start with, placing that alongside a mysterious virus, authorities restrictions and wild conspiracy theories meant that the entire thing felt quite like a little bit of a smack within the face. What it does present, to Townsend’s immense credit score, is her understanding of the human situation, of society’s foibles, and she or he has extrapolated these in a approach that’s frankly uncanny. I’ve seen lots of people speak about how Nineteen Eighty-Four was speculated to be a warning not an instruction guide, primarily based on Orwell extrapolating his observations of the politics and world round him. I used to be not anticipating to really feel the identical approach a couple of center grade fantasy novel set in a whimsical world that has large speaking cats, however then 2020 occurred and right here we’re.

Townsend does such a very good job of explaining and demonstrating actually advanced private and social points with care and thoughtfulness, in a approach that helps make them accessible to youthful readers. She doesn’t ignore the difficulties of the world, or gloss over them – which she simply might! Her world shouldn’t be our world, she created a playground full of caprice and magic, with One Bad Man and many neat critters! But as a substitute she takes these characters, and these fanciful tales and settings, and digs down into the actual peopleness of all of it, for the great or dangerous it brings. I believe it’s improbable that she is keen to deal with this kind of factor and makes me consider all my outdated instructor coaching literacy planning, speaking about presenting kids with tales that assist them develop empathy, and relate to the actual world via metaphor and allegory. Each guide on this collection brings extra ethical and social complexities, and no ending is definitely tied up in a bow. There are compromises, a few of them uncomfortable, however on the coronary heart is a lady studying to be a kinder particular person, surrounded by form individuals who love her, even when she doesn’t fairly know the best way to settle for that love solely as a result of she’s by no means skilled it earlier than.

I’m extraordinarily excited in regards to the subsequent guide on this collection, and to see what else Townsend has in retailer! This collection is a keeper for me, however I hope that when – in just a few years – I come again at learn Hollowpox, all of it feels a little bit bit much less like lemon juice in a papercut.

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