Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Checkers - John Marsden


Pages: 128 Pages

Published: 1996

Date Finished: 16th August 2011

Rating: 2.5 Stars **

Synopsis: Via Good Reads

Australian author John Marsden's gripping suspense stories--with his signature shocking climaxes--have made him the John Grisham of the young adult set around the globe. Checkers, following this tradition, is the riveting story of a teenage girl who loses not only her family but her sanity when her father is suspected of participating in a financial scam--one that the media has traced to the highest levels of the Australian government. Telling the story in first-person flashbacks as the girl recuperates in a mental institution, Marsden symbolizes his protagonist's powerlessness by never revealing her name. The result is an eerie sense that she could be any teenager trying to understand her parent's cryptic behavior and motives. The only completely honest relationship the girl has is with her beloved dog Checkers, a gift from her father upon closing his most important deal. Checkers "wasn't the kind of dog you hug really tight, like a Labrador.... He had too much independence, too much pride," but he becomes the only source of comfort for the girl once the story breaks about her father's shady business practices. She never dreamed that the connection the reporters are searching for could be running around in her own backyard. Fraught with tension and political intrigue, Checkers is an intelligent page-turner for teens.


John Marsden hasn’t been on the top of my To Be Read Author pile, but when I saw Checkers in the charity shop I decided to pick it up and give it a try. While I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t enthralled either. For the majority of the novel I was confused by the underlying political sub-plot and it stilted the reading experience for me throughout the book.

I did enjoy the flashbacks from the present to the past, exploring the reason why the main character [who is never named] is in the psychiatric hospital. I must admit that if I had to go through what she did I am not sure that I wouldn’t go insane myself, but this is novel is less about her sanity and more about the reason behind the events that brought her to the hospital.

While it does go into detail about her present life and the characters she meets, I am glad we got to learn about each of them instead of just the main character. I found that most of her growth was through the main characters and they supported the story, keeping it together. Especially Checkers, a character I grew to love myself until the end.

My main concern was the confusion caused by the intertwining plots. I found myself having to put the book down even though it is short. I am still unsure whether this was my own person life intruding or if my mind switched of when she talked about topics I had no interest in. However I would check this book out. If not just to see how different today’s young adult genre is. It’s one of those novels that aren’t for everyone, but If you like mystery, betrayal, animals and a thrilling twist then you are sure to enjoy this book.


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