City of the Beasts

by Isabel Allende

HarperCollins, Oct., 2002.
Hardcover, 416 pages.
ISBN: 006050918X
Ages Young Adult

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende Alexander Cold, feels that he is a typical fifteen year old teenager, but he is actually about to embark on the greatest adventure and discovery of his young life: finding his own spiritual center. Through testing himself to his psychological and physical limit, Alexander finds that he can then save others.

Due to his mother's illness, Alexander and his two sisters must be parceled out to family members. While his sisters get to go to the grandmother who can cook, Alex is sent to live with his tough, adventurous grandmother who writes for the International Geographic. Alexander finds that he will be going to the Amazon jungle to verify the existence of a giant man-like creature that emits a terrible smell before eviscerating its victims. Before he goes, his grandmother gives him his grandfather's flute, a fine instrument that his musician grandfather had played.

A party of assorted personalities assembles in Manaus, the largest city in the Amazon region. There was Omayra Torres, a beautiful young doctor who is determined to vaccinate the Indian tribes against certain diseases from the civilized world which would have exterminated them. Ludovic LeBlanc, an internationally acclaimed anthropologist and author, is a short, wiry, nervous man who is constantly reminding the others of his importance in the world. Cesar Santos, a tall sharp featured guide, his daughter, Nadia, a honey-colored girl of about thirteen and most endearing of all, her little black monkey, Boroba, who is a very strong character in the story. Controlling, yet hidden to most is the ancient shaman, Walimai who actually leads the two young adventurers with his wisdom and spiritualism.

Ms.Allende has written a powerful and exciting adventure story that fascinates and entertains the reader on every page. Add to this a totally unexpected ending, and the reader cannot abandon this exciting tale. It is easy to understand why Ms. Allende has been so popular with her readers. We are indebted to Ms. Peden for her graceful and sensitive translation of City of the Beasts from the original Spanish.

-Sarah Reaves White

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This review was published in the March, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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