Friday, April 2, 2010

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

The London Eye Mystery
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
published February 2008 by Random House
323 pages, middle grade
I wondered if I should start a conversation. But what about? Small talk or big talk? I remembered what Mum had said when I started at secondary school last autumn. When you meet new people, Ted, keep the talk small. I'd asked her what this meant. Did it mean to use only words of one syllable? She'd laughed and said no, it meant sticking to everyday subjects. Like the weather? I'd asked. And she sighed and said, 'OK, Ted. Like the weather. Only not big weather. Small weather.' Which meant I could talk about anticyclones and minor depressions but not major storm systems or global warming. (p. 32)
Ted, our 11 year-old narrator, knows that his mind works differently than most people's - although it's not explicitly stated, various clues tell readers that he has something like Asperger's syndrome - which makes him an asset to the current investigation of the disappearance of his cousin, Salim. Ted, Kat (his older sister), and Salim were in line to ride the London Eye when this mystery begins. Salim receives a free ticket from a stranger (warning signs should be flashing) to ride the Eye, so the group decides it would be fine for Salim to experience the ride by himself. Half an hour later, when Salim's carriage descends and its occupants exit, Salim is nowhere to be found. The adults go into panic mode, while Ted and Kat try to puzzle out the possibilities of Salim's disappearance on their own.

I wouldn't classify this as a mystery that mystery fans will love. Yes, mystery is in the title of the book, but this one's more about the characters and how they relate to each other. Which is why I enjoyed it. It's no surprise that I'm a fan of character-based books. Sure, I love a good plot and a fast-paced story, but those books rarely stick with me. This book is one I'll remember. I love the fact that Ted's syndrome was dealt with in such a natural way - the frustrations his family experienced with him at times weren't sugar-coated but the unique and best parts of his personality were also present and described in such a Ted way. That's why I chose the passage I did to open with because I can't really tell you why the writing appealed to me so - showing is better. Ted is fascinated by weather and aspires to be a meteorologist, which also serves as an outlet for him to make life connections. His personality is strong and consistent and definitely gives readers a peek into a mind that may be different from their own.

The universe and I were in sync today, as I finished this book on World Autism Day, though I didn't know it at the time. Thanks to The Brown Bookshelf for keeping me informed!

Other reviews:
Books & others thoughts; BookMoot; Sweet Reads; Book Nut; Jen Robinson's Book Page

Hello to those of you who found me via the Book Blogger Hop! Hope you enjoyed the review and will take a look around while you're here. Don't forget to leave a comment so I can check out your blog too. :) Oh, and feel free to enter my Unsung YA Giveaway while you're at it.

And those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, check out the Book Blogger Hop at, a weekly social event to find new blogs to follow.



Brenda said...

I found you from the blog hop. Your blog looks like a lot of fun. I'm following now!

Bri Ahearn said...

Also found you via the blog hop. I'm a follower now too.

I love that the MC wants to be a meteorologist. This sounds like a great read.

Faye( Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm) said...

Found ya via Hop :D
<3 ur blog

I haven't read MG since...forever :D

Kathleen said...

Found you through blog hop. I saved you in delicious. Going to look around a bit more.

Peaceful Reader said...

I need to do the blog hop! Good review-sounds like a great book. Have you read Anything but typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin? -about an autistic young man. Amazing!

Jan von Harz said...

Natalie, love how you related your love of books that are more about characters than story, although story usually is good when characterization is well done. Ted sounds like a really unique boy and I am interested in how the plot plays out.

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

Hi! I'm stopping by from the book blogger hop!!

Anonymous said...


You have an awesome site that I am now following ... loving this blog hop (",).

Have a great day!

NatalieSap said...

Michelle - I haven't read Anything but Typical; the only other book with an autistic character I've read is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time a long, long time ago. There are SO many wonderful novels written with autistic characters these days.

Jan - You're right that good characters usually provide for a good story too, which I suppose is an added bonus for me. :) I realize now that I didn't say much about the plot - Kat and Ted have a bit of a power struggle throughout the book, as Kat sees herself as a "do-er" and Ted is definitely a thinker. The adults basically want the kids out of the way, so that forces the siblings to pursue their theories on their own. And that's all I'll say. :)

Thanks to everyone stopping by from the blog hop! On my way to visit your blogs now...

Bookalicious Ramblings said...

Thanks for the great review and for bringing the book to my attention, I really like the sound of it! I love your blog too! :)

pussreboots said...

I've been a subscriber to your blog for about a month. It's nice to see you participating in the blog hop. Here's my post.

DJ D. said...

Hey! I found you through the hop and I really like your blog! I'm now a proud follower! :)

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