Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

6th January, Razorbill
448 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Fantasy & Young Adult (cross-over novel)

Moderate amounts of gore, some swearing (occasionally strong), some innuendos & adult situations, school, nobility, guards, torture, mystery, terror, runaways, a few sad moments, thrills,

Summary from Penguin 

'Listen. The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is named after a damned lie for there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary.'
The Sanctuary of the Redeemers: vast, desolate, hopeless. Where children endure brutal cruelty and violence in the name of the One True Faith.
Lost in the Sanctuary's huge maze of corridors is a boy: his age uncertain, his real name unknown. They call him Cale. He is strange and secretive, witty and charming - and violent. But when he opens the wrong door at the wrong time he witnesses an act so horrible he must flee, or die.
The Redeemers will go to any lengths to get Cale back.
Not because of the secret he has discovered.
But because of a more terrifying secret that lies undiscovered in himself.

Nayuleska's thoughts
I've wanted to read this ever since the adult version came out (isn't it cool?! It reminds me a little of Darth Vader though...), so I was thrilled to hear of it getting a new cover for the young adult edition. It is a pretty exciting book. From the beginning I learnt that Cale has a harsh life under the stern religious rule of the Redeemers. It's only when he meets something so shocking involving someone that he has to act. His friends go along with them, but they aren't exactly willing. There are so many occasions when they complain and want to leave Riba behind so they can escape. They get captured by other people, (thankfully not the Redeemers), and Riba is treated a little better than them. Not only are there plots among the Redeemers, but there are plots with everyone who comes into contact with them.

I like it how Cale bluffs his way through quite a bit of his life. He has such strength, determination and courage. He is a bit of an idiot of times, not quite being able to read between the lines. All the characters he meets have several agendas. Surprisingly those who wish him harm or who are supposed to harm him find ways out so they don't have to hurt him. There are a few instances where he does the right thing, but by doing that he makes the situation worse for himself. There is a high level of detail which was a pleasure to read. A few sentences had my stomach turning. Content wise it was pretty much okay, some innuendo and the odd paragraph in a very rough part of town which thankfully I didn't entirely understand but I can guess what some of the phrases meant.

It's true that there is something about him that makes him amazing at fighting and killing people. This isn't learnt until the end. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more emphasis on this through the story. The Redeemers wanted Cale back, and they did chase after him, but I'd thought there might be more scenes with the Redeemers so the reader could gain a feeling of why Cale is so important. When Riba was taken that was a huge blow to the Redeemers - I didn't feel that this was followed up as thoroughly as it could be. They didn't seem that bothered about her, and very little was given away about Riba's purpose. Additionally I wasn't so keen on the last battle (I think it was the last 75 or 50 pages). I understood what each side was doing - but it didn't seem to tie in as well with the rest of the story. It felt like there were a few points missing as to why it was all happening, almost as if it was a bit distant from the book. I confess to skim reading it just so that I could know what happened.

There are a few females in the book, Riba and Arbella Swan. I really liked Riba, yes she was spoilt and didn't know any better but she was a sweet girl and ended up okay. I liked Arbella as a character, her position in society and the early part of when she met Cale. What happens in the rest of the story I wasn't so fond of her character - I don't like girls like that and I actually didn't care if she got hurt.

Although I had a few issues with the book, I am eager to see what happens in the next one. It could be that I find the answers I've been looking for. It is at times an intensive story, but throughout most of the novel you'll be desperate to keep turning over the page to watch Cale's exploits.

Final conclusion 
Cale isn't a character you'd want to meet on a dark, stormy night, alone in an alley or get on the wrong side of him. It's a good thing he's trying to protect people.

Suggested reads: The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniels (the kind of life Cale leads at the start of the book is similar to some of Fin's life)


Cliona said...

That looks good. Brilliant review!

Nayuleska said...

Thank you :)