silverwing / sunwing
i'm not aged between eight and eleven, but i bet you i'm not kenneth oppel's oldest fan, either. when i first started reading silverwing, which was recommended by a friend (and yes, yes i do have the coolest friends), i was a little disappointed. it is clearly for young readers. oppel isn't pullman, and he isn't rowling, either. he writes a pretty straightforward novel in simple language and with simple ideas. which is why i was so surprised when i couldn't put it down.
oppel's unlikely hero is a young bat named shade. the first book, silverwing, is about coming of age, a pretty universal concept apparently. shade gets separated from his colony during the autumnal migration, and has grand adventures trying to rejoin them.
my favourite part of the novel was the bat mythology : the feud between the birds and the beasts and the bats, and the resulting laws governing their interaction, the wealth of stories and myth making up the history of the bats, and the structure and hierarchy of the colony itself.
the actual plots themselves, the disappearance of shade’s father and the threat of the jungle bats, left me a little cold. they seemed entirely predictable and overdone. but shade is an engaging hero with enough flaws and insecurities to make him interesting. so if you are looking for a gift for the eight to eleven crowd, it’s a good bet that this will please. plus, bonus, you get to read it yourself!