Hooray! Nizrana Farook has done it again! In 2020 her debut 'The Girl Who Stole an Elephant' was one of my personal favourites, and with 'The Boy Who Met a Whale' she has created another stunning, engrossing read.
Razi lives on the beautiful island of Serendib, surrounded by an ocean that is full of mystery, beauty and wonder, but also fear. When Zheng, a boy of about Razi's age, washes up on the beach, he brings with him danger and the prospect of adventure. Zheng has stories of sea monsters and treasures, which might just impact Serendib in a big way. To find out the truth, Razi and his sister, Shifa, must head out to sea to reclaim an important artefact. But can Razi overcome his fears while ruthless thieves are in pursuit?
From the very first chapter, 'The Boy Who Met a Whale' sweeps you up in a tsunami of thrilling adventure. I mean, check this out for an opening line:
'The boy clung to the rail with a death grip as the ship lurched violently in the storm.'
You don't get openings much better than that. And from there, the story continues to be pacy and exciting, with mysteries that compel you to read each nugget of a chapter - it's a treasure trove of fun! Farook has a masterly ability to evoke beautiful settings with a knife-edge of danger on each page too. The chases in this book are adrenaline-fuelled but then there are startling moments of beauty as we are caught on a wave experiencing the wonders of a secret island or the majesty of a hidden whale. Razi, Shifa and Zheng also make a wonderful trio of characters, full of energy and wit and fears, so that with each climatic wave of storytelling we cling on with them. Dialogue is sharp and fun and authentic. This is such an enjoyable read.
If you want a gripping story that sets you off on an adventure, away from our current lockdown, then this is the perfect choice! A great first read for 2021.
Thank you to Nosy Crow for my copy to review.