Top critical review
Not a fun read - spare your children!
Reviewed in the United States on October 19, 2020
This book was terrible. I cannot fathom why it received good reviews. It's set in what I assume is a dystopian future in which the country is at war, although this is not specifically stated. Alternating chapters are told from the perspective of the boy and the fox. The fox's chapters are really dull--as you might expect, being inside a fox's head is not that interesting. The book in general is Really, Really dark: dead parents, severed limbs, war, gore, guilt, you name it. I kept waiting for a bright, uplifting event to make all this misery worthwhile, but it didn't come. The end was abrupt and disappointing. A lot of the language is way too sophisticated for 8-12 year olds. Here's a typical sentence: "It hung between grief and yearning, and it welled from a deep ache for something that Pax could never divine." I read it to my 9 and 12 year old, and I changed words as I read so they would understand. We all wanted to stop reading by the midway point, but we finished on principle. I cringed to have to subject them to such a thankless story. It gives kids' books a bad name. There are good, smart, thought-provoking books that are ALSO entertaining and fun. This is not one of them. If you want your kids to like books, don't make them read this.