Hello Humans! Remember last year, how every single book I reviewed seemed to be a retelling of some sort? One such book was The Haven which managed to distinguish itself by being a retelling of Oliver Twist as opposed to any kind of fairytale. I enjoyed The Haven, finding it a nice ‘street kids’ story that developed into something quite dark towards the end (though I’d still call it upper middle grade). I was interested to see how the series would continue beyond the events of book one and so decided to request a review copy of The Haven: Revolution. I have just finished it and I have a fair few thoughts so let’s not dither and we’ll get on with the review.
You don’t know it exists, but when you have nowhere else to turn, the Haven will find you … An adrenaline-fuelled adventure, second in the Haven series, by top thriller writer Simon Lelic.
Our city. Our secret. Our rules.
When pupils start going missing from a prestigious boarding school, Ollie Turner knows it’s a job for the Haven.
Below the city streets, the Haven is a sanctuary for kids run by kids.
Ollie and the Haven’s investigations team put their lives on the line, going undercover to find the missing children. But little do they realise that a deadly enemy awaits them – one with plans to destroy everything they hold dear.
I want to preface this review with the fact that I am a 24-year-old lady – while that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy fiction aimed at a younger audience it does mean I try to read those books with a younger audience in mind. With this book, however, I’m fairly sure a lot of the negatives I found were because I was reading it as an older reader. So, if you’re looking for whether or not you should read this book and you are a teen/middle-grade reader or you’re a librarian or educator – take what I say and pull it into your own context.
So, the characters in this series and in this book – I think they’re great. I really liked that there was a character who uses a wheelchair. Despite the fact that a lot of this book involves being in tunnels or running away from things she is always included and it’s never seen as a limitation – that felt powerful to me. I also liked that they acknowledged that the decisions made at the end of book one as regards leadership did not have to be permanent. I think the characters and most of the decisions they make were my favourite aspects of this book.
Now on to the things that were less…wonderful.
One of the things that was so exciting about The Haven was the place itself, this kind of strange child-led utopia that was created in an abandoned building. I found myself wanting more of that world, wanting to know more about what had happened to various children after they left the Haven, what else they did to pass the time. Instead, most of this book takes place outside the Haven and the bits that do take place within it are mostly meetings where you don’t get to see much of the ‘culture’ of the children who live there. I wanted to explore how the general population were dealing with a comparative outsider as a leader. Maybe that’ll come into play in the third book? Am I going to have to read it and find out? Probably.
Did anyone else read the Alex Rider books when growing up? I’m pretty sure they were the only ‘he’s a teen spy’ series I read – though I know there are a lot more – for most of the series. I stopped reading, however, when he went into space. For me that felt so ludicrous that I wasn’t willing to keep going – that was my line in the sand. Maybe that was a sign of me becoming a belligerent older teen, the loss of that willingness to believe the very silly for the sake of a teen-spy plot? But that was similar to how I felt reading this. It felt utterly ludicrous that a prime minister might go to a private school in order to begin a re-election campaign – that just….wouldn’t happen. And even if by some miracle it did, if the school children are aware the headmaster has connections to shady Russian politics SURELY the prime minister would know and wouldn’t go there? There were a few moments like that where even I, the fantasy lover, couldn’t quite suspend disbelief enough to go along with what was happening. Again, I suspect that is, in part, due to my age, maybe if I’d read Alex Rider earlier I would have accepted the space travel without batting an eyelid? Maybe an upper middle-grade reader wouldn’t be bothered by this? I honestly can’t say.
Overall, I suspect this would be a great book for upper middle-grade readers. I wouldn’t recommend it to readers who are already reading older YA titles – it’s more of a transitional book. I liked a lot of things about this book and I will say that it is a nice fast-paced read – at 320 pages it didn’t feel like a slog to get to the plot.
While this might have been a two-star book for me I’ve chosen to mark it three stars to allow for the age difference between me and the intended audience.
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
The Haven: Revolution is available August 8th
What say you? Will you be reading this? What do you think – are retellings done and dusted? Let me know in the comments below!