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Strange Objects Library Binding – May, 1993


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Winner of Australia's 1991 Children's Book of the Year award, this stunningly original work defies easy categorization as it spins dual story lines into one spellbinding yarn. Crew brings to life the land and peoples of the desert shores of Western Australia, a setting that will prove exotic to most Americans. He starts his novel with a bang: a note from an archeologist introduces documents she's been sent by a recently vanished 16-year-old named Steven Messenger, who had gained some notoriety when he'd found a cast-iron pot containing a 17th-century Dutchman's journal and a mummified human hand bearing a now-missing ring. The journal tells the story of Wouter Loos, a sailor accused of barbarous crimes and cast upon the ocean along with a teenage killer; Crew unfolds Loos's narrative with Messenger's as a seamless and unpredictable blend of mystery, history, anthropology and science fiction. The first of many shocks is in store when Messenger turns out to be not the typical YA nice-guy teen protagonist, but the reincarnation (or the extraterrestrial clone?) of the supernatural psychopath who so chillingly dominates Loos's diary. Crew tantalizes to the very end, leaving readers to speculate enthusiastically on the riddles he craftily leaves unsolved. His tale will electrify his audience. Ages 10-14.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 9-12-- A bizarre, mystical, and very Australian novel. On a school field trip to the outback, 16-year-old Steven Messenger discovers a 17th-century iron pot containing a leather-bound diary and a mummified human hand. These artifacts are turned over to the authorities, but an antique ring from the hand becomes Steven's prized possession and results in out-of-body experiences and dabblings in aboriginal religion. Told through the reports of archaeologists, historians, newspaper accounts, Steven's personal writings, and the diary of Wouter Loos, a 17th-century murderer, the story both intrigues and confuses. For readers well versed in the area's history, geography, lore, and ethnicity, it may be compelling. However, the violence and mysticism create a strong, skewed, negative vision of Australian human relations both past and present. The main characters, historical Wouter Loos and contemporary Steven Messenger, echo racial misunderstandings and prejudice. Loos recounts in his diary the prevailing European stereotypes of "natives," while Messenger describes Aborigines as "all looking alike," dirty, and "drinking cheap wine." His comments and physical attack on an elderly Aborigine are disturbing, to say the least. Couple these sentiments and events with the effect that possessing the magical ring has on Messenger, and you have one complicated ball of wax. Strange Objects is a strange book that will most likely baffle American young adults. --Alice Casey Smith, Lakewood Public Library, NJ
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Library Binding: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Juv) (May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067179759X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671797591
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,707,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I recommend "Strange Objects" to anyone who likes historical fiction or adventure/mystery.
Kian Lim
Sadly, interest is quickly lost, because the plot is hard to follow and there is not much excitement to maintain interest.
Jeremy Dufour
I have not read any of Crew�s other books, but Strange Objects has given me and insight into his writing techniques.
Andrew

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Matt Eden is a Champion on November 4, 2002
Format: Library Binding
Strange Objects takes you on a journey during the historical finding of shipwrecked items unseen for centuries, which unexpectedly begins a series of events that could change Australian history forever.
Gary Crew, author of Strange Objects, was born in 1947 and has become a highly respected writer for young adults in Australia. During his career he has earned the prestigious Children's Book of the Year Award a record four times which include the CBC Book of the Year: Older Readers for Angel's Gate and Strange Objects. Gary's talent does not only lie with novels but also with picture books and this has led to the CBC Picture Book of the Year award for First Light and The Watertower.
Strange Objects recounts the enigmatic events following Steven Messengers finding of the Iron pot, where the story takes place over two periods in time, the present and 1629. Steven is a young teenager finding it hard dealing with life's events such as being a teenager, his only friend Nigel Kratzman and living in rural Australia. On a biology field trip at the Murchison River Steven stumbles upon an iron pot containing a mummified hand with a gold ring attached, and a leather bound journal. Due to its significance various people investigate the findings and try to accurately inform the public. Everyone involved becomes captivated by the contest and the leather bound journal is seen to be the key in unlocking the mysteriousness of the items. However one of the problems is that the gold ring, previously attached to the finger, disappeared and ended up in the possession of Steven unbeknown to anyone.
The story then starts to take a turn into the mysterious and strange as the journal is translated to reveal the author as Wouter Loos, a criminal and survivor of The Batavia Shipwreck in 1629.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Dufour on May 27, 2001
Format: Library Binding
Strange Objects is a story that really demands patience and is quite confusing at times, but it deserves some praise for its creativity, with its frequent changing of genres throughout the book. This 1991, Australian award winner by Gary Crew (known for such books as `The Inner Circle' and `Angel's Gate') is a well written and very unique story.
Unlike most books `Strange Objects' is written as a collection of diary entries, news paper articles and expert documentations, which piece together the mystery surrounding a young boy, Steven Messenger and some strange objects. The diary entries are effective, in that they give the best indication of what's happening and detail the way Steven is feeling. The plot focuses mainly on the boy's discovery of strange, mysterious objects which have historical significance. The objects, which include a human hand and a ring, found in a large iron pot, open up national interest in the hope of piecing everything together. Then after the discovery of a 17th Century journal, written by a survivor of the lost Dutch ship, the Batavia, more insight is given into the history of the strange objects. As the book nears its end, the many different sources establish what is happening, and links are made to ancient history and even the Australian indigenous people.
Sadly, interest is quickly lost, because the plot is hard to follow and there is not much excitement to maintain interest. The only aspect that keeps the reader involved is the curiosity in finding out what happened to Steven Messenger. Yet, even this is let down by the frustrating, seemingly unresolved ending.
It's hard to get a real feel for the characters, as the story is told through the use of different sources; the diary entries giving the only real indication of the personas of the characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on November 7, 2002
Format: Library Binding
Strange Objects, is totally summarised by its name. Strange is an excellent adjective to use in order to describe of a series of events that occurs in the book Strange Objects. Written by Gary Crew and first published in 1990, the Australian author has definitely written an interesting book.
I have not read any of Crew�s other books, but Strange Objects has given me and insight into his writing techniques. The story is based around a teenage boy named Steven Messenger, who lives in a small rural town in a roadhouse with his mother. Things are fairly normal to him, until when on a school field trip he discovers a large pot with a hand inside. On the hand is a ring, and it seems whenever Steven has this on his finger or around his neck, he seems to float away from himself unconsciously. He has unusual dreams, and interactions with his friends and Mother decline. His mate Kratzman supports him on most of his actions, however their relationship is always on a knife-edge where one can fall at anytime.
The book is set in �Items�. Where each item contains a different scene, or letter, or journal. There are two different stories running in parallel in the novel, one is of Messenger and the rural town, and another is of two sailors, Wouter Loos and Jan Pelgrom from a boat called the Batavia. They were accused of murder and were castaway in a small boat. Their story is shown through the Journal of Loos, it is another item, and this journal was found in the pot along with the hand.
The novel is quite hard to follow at times, it takes so many different turns and there are so many splinter stories from the two main ones that it can be very confusing.
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