I read David Almond's Skellig, and since I liked that, I thought I'd try Heaven Eyes. It was fine at the beginning I have a soft spot for books about runaways and orphans, so it started out promising.
Honestly, though, I just didn't like the characters. Erin, although I felt bad for her at times, seemed just a tad immature and kind of got on my nerves. I'm not a fan of dependent, puny characters, so I didn't like Mouse for that. Grampa wasn't bad, but I didn't really understand him. And Heaven Eyes...she made me think of a slightly clueless four-year-old. The only remotely likable character was January but that's only because I like characters with minds of their own. He was way too angry for my taste.
The setting was pretty good the Black Middens were interesting, and the docks where Grampa and Heaven Eyes lived were somewhere I'd like to explore. And the digging for treasures in the Black Middens was neat; there seemed to be a little bit of everything buried there.
The plot...well, I'm not sure there was much of a plot. The basic storyline went January and Erin running away, finding Heaven Eyes and Grampa in the Black Middens, January trying to get Erin to leave and Erin not wanting to go without Heaven Eyes. Mix that up with irrelevant information, some thoroughly confusing parts, and an unsatisfying conclusion, and that's pretty much the book.
Running away from Whiregates is easy. After all, it's not a prison. Erin and her running-away friend January, do it all the time. This time is different, though. This time they're going down the river-the dark, deep river with it's powerful currents and swirling eddies. They are looking for freedom, sweet freedom, however dangerous the journey.
But this journey takes them somewhere they never expected to go. In the slithery mud of the Black Middens, they find a strange girl called Heaven Eyes. It is HEaven Eyes who will help these damaged children find the tiny corner of paradise they lost. For only HEaven Eyes can see through all the darkness in the worl to the joy that lies beneath.
This is the second book by Almond that I have read; the first was [[ASIN:038532653X Skellig (Printz Honor)]]. I liked this book a lot but didn't think it was as good as Skellig.
Erin Law, January Carr and Mouse Gullane live in an orphanage and one night they decide to flee the orphanage on a raft. They end up stuck in the muddy slime of the Black Middens and are found by a odd and scrawny girl named Heaven Eyes. Heaven Eyes introduces them to a bleak and grimy world; an abandoned island full of empty warehouses and boxes of chocolates. Heaven's only companion is Grampa, and old man who is either a saint or a devil.
This was a very interesting book. As with Skellig, Almond makes this dankest of atmospheres seem somehow magical. He has a penchant for finding magic in the bleakest of places. The characters are engaging and believable and the surroundings described in such a way that you can picture every horrible smell and creeping shadow.
I enjoyed how Erin and her friends found a place that was apart from humanity in such nearness to their home. It was actually somewhat inspiring how they found a sort of magic in the ugliest of places. It makes you think about every abandoned building you pass and wonder what could be happening inside of it.
The questions around whether or not Grampa was Heaven Eye's savior or the murderer of her family really drove the plot forward and made the book incredibly hard to put done. This was a book that was dark in its nature, but surprisingly filled with hope and magic. It was a very complete story but a big ambiguous at times.
I thought Skellig was set in a more realistic setting and, as such, I enjoyed that book a bit more. The time in history this story is set in is fairly ambiguous and, as such, gives the whole story a somewhat fairy tale feel.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Almond's descriptive writing style and the way he finds beauty in the grimiest of settings. I would recommend this book for all ages. It is beautifully written and at points really makes you think about humanity and how we treat the undesirables in our lives. I will definitely be checking out more of Almond's works in the future.