I will admit that when I heard the premise of this book, I did think it may be a Lord of the Flies for a younger audience. Some children are caught in an air disaster and end up fighting for survival in a remote location. There are, of course, many similarities between The Explorer and Golding’s classic, but as the narrative unfolds you will find The Explorer deserves every credit it has received.
What is refreshing about this book is that it is a good old-fashioned adventure, straight out of the mould of Swallows and Amazons. There is no need to new fangled technologies or contrived plot twists. Instead, you are drawn into the jungle by Rundell’s narrative. While you a reading, it is your home. You become accustomed to it, the sights, the smells, the dangers. Without doubt, Rundell proves herself to have that quality of seamlessly transporting her readers to a faraway place.
This is also a book filled with knowledge. It’s clear that no stone has been left unturned in Rundell’s search to create a realistic setting. The book is, in fact, packed with knowledge about the Amazon and its creatures. Moreover, there’s a clear message behind the story. We are losing our natural wonders at far too quick a rate. The rainforests are shrinking, and with them species and indigenous people are dwindling. The stark realities of this are laid bare in The Explorer for all to see. As this realities dawns on the characters, so to does it challenge the reader to think of their own values.
For those who are familiar with my reviews and views, I love to see a character develop. Two characters stand out in The Explorer: the explorer and wannabe explorer Fred. Fred’s development throughout is incredible. His journey is that of a boy to a man. Not only is this a physical journey, but his mind awakens to the world around him maturing him and shaping the man he will become.
This was a truly refreshing read. One that brought back memories of some of my favourite books from childhood. It is a book to savour, not to rush through in one sitting. Something to transport you to one of those places only a good book can take you to. It is a book about adventure, about friendship, about trust and about the world around us. In short, it’s a good old-fashioned yarn.
Age Recommendation: 9+
Pages: 416 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens