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City of the Beasts Paperback – November 3, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 139 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Adventure seekers will find plenty of thrills in Allende's first novel for young readers. When 15-year-old Alexander Cold is sent to stay with his eccentric, gruff grandmother, Kate, while his mother is being treated for cancer, he is more than a little reluctant to accompany Kate on a writing assignment in South America to search for a legendary nine-foot-tall "Beast." However, once the expedition down the Amazon begins, Alexander's doubts are pushed out of his mind by more immediate concerns, such as keeping an eye on two suspicious members of the party: a native named Karakawe and Mauro Cari as, a wealthy entrepreneur. After Alexander's mysterious encounter with a caged jaguar, another teen, Nadia, explains its importance to him, and begins calling Alexander "Jaguar." This marks the beginning of their somewhat surreal journey: the two teens are kidnapped by the "People of the Mist," a tribe possessing the power of turning invisible, and enter a mountain to discover the mythical city of El Dorado and the enigmatic "Beasts." Reluctant readers may be intimidated by the thickness of this volume, but the plot moves at a rapid pace, laced with surprises and ironic twists. The action and outcome seem preordained, cleverly crafted to deliver the moral, but many readers will find the author's formula successful with its environmentalist theme, a pinch of the grotesque and a larger dose of magic. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-10-In her first novel for younger readers (HarperCollins, 2002), Isabel Allende creates an authentic South American world, this time in the Amazon rain forest, and combines it with mythical realms of the imagination. California teen Alexander Cold embarks with his rather stern and prickly grandmother Kate, a writer, on a trek to locate a legendary Yeti-like Beast of the Amazon. An egotistical anthropologist, two photographers, and a guide with a teenage daughter fill out the official party. They are joined by a rich Amazon adventurer with villainous intentions and a doctor whose job supposedly is to carry protective vaccines to any native population. The story develops jungle and expedition details as well as cultural and economic conflicts with a mysterious People of the Mist very well. But the travels of the young people alone into the territory of the People as well as that of the giant Beasts are full of mysticism and fantastic happenings. Just when one twist of the plot seems to be reaching a resolution, two or three more arise, creating layer upon layer of incredible events. Narrator Blair Brown creates subtle voices and distinguishing accents for all the characters. Her rendering of unfamiliar native words is excellent, and this feature will be helpful to listeners who might come to a frustrated full stop at seeing the words in print. Her convincing reading is a real asset. A short appropriate musical passage plays at the beginning and ending of each side of the tape. The lengthy, complex plot may limit the audiobook's appeal. The story is noteworthy for its portrayal of the region and its problems, but unusual in its reliance on the supernatural and mystical. It will appeal to teens with an interest in the rain forest and a taste for the fantastic.
Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, Painted Post NY
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 17 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 12
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061825115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061825118
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Fifteen-year-old, Alexander Cold, is given the opportunity of a lifetime, when his fearless Grandmother, a magazine reporter for INTERNATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, invites him to tag along on her journey through the Amazon. Bidding his family and ill Mother goodbye, Alexander takes the chance, and ends up exploring, not only with his Grandmother, but with a Doctor, a celebrated anthropologist, a local guide, and his young daughter, Nadia. Their journey will take them where no man (or woman) has gone before, to document the legendary Yeti that just so happens to survive in the Amazon, and is better known as "the Beast." Under the canopy of the rain forest, and with his newly acquired friend, Alexander and Nadia are led on an adventure that will change their lives forever, by the invisible People of the Mist.
A woman I know at the local Barnes & Noble has been recommending this book to me since it was released. However, it seemed like something that I probably wouldn't be interested in. Boy was I wrong. Being very interested in the field of cryptozoology, I found all of the talk about "the Beast" absolutely fascinating, and was extremely mesmerized by the descriptions of the rain forest. Alexander is a likeable character that will appeal greatly to male readers, while Nadia is a brave character who will appeal greatly to female readers. A must have for all ages, especially teens interested in adventurous YA literature. Great job, Ms. Isabel Allende!
Erika Sorocco
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Format: Hardcover
I rented this book from the library on a whim, and much to my suprise, I really enjoyed it. I was very captivated by the book, and would reccomend it to anyone who loves fantasy and adventure books.

This book is a great addition to anyones bookshelf. Elegantly crafted, it has many twists and suprises and the plot is very fast paced. While providing an entertaining story, City of the Beasts also delivers lessons and morals to the reader.

City of the Beasts is also a story many Teens will be able to relate to. Not because of the exotic setting of the story itself, but through the charecters. This book shows how the 2 main charecters become friends, and is also a source of self-discovery for the main charecter.

Overall, this book is a worthwhile read for anyone. I only gave it 4 Stars because it does not stand out that vividly in my mind as one of the best books I have ever read, but it is still up there in my top 20!
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Format: Hardcover
Great adventures in the Amazon, to be precise: somewhere between Manaus in Brazil and Venezuela.

This first novel of the trilogy is actually written by Isabel Allende for young adults. Being uninformed of this purpose, I have picked up City of the Beasts because of the promising adventures content. Well, it turned out to be a well written book, for ALL ages.

Regardless of what other reviewers say about this novel, I found that Miss Allende have done an extremely wonderful job in describing natures beauties along with an exhaustive research on Amazon, anthropologies, environmental and related issues. It is a light novel with serious environmental issues.

Alex Cold is a fifteen year-old teenager from California. He was sent to stay with his grandmother, Kate, for a moment during her mother's extreme cancer therapy somewhere in Texas. Kate is working for International Geographic as a journalist curretnly assigned to study the Amazons. Alex was taken along for the exhilarating journey, meeting weird creatures. the plot generates ffrom this main storyline.

Lots of imagination and environmental issues. A well-written light novel for everybody enjoying adventure-genre fictions.
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Format: Hardcover
This story follows a somewhat formulaic path for children's fantasy-- unfamiliar lands, mythical creatures, the skeptic that doesn't believe in said mythical creatures, the caricatured villain that you know is the culprit, a people that need to be saved, and the all-important prophecy about the chosen children.

This in itself doesn't make the book bad of course, since a good writer can make even formulas entertaining. Allende is a decent enough writer that City of the Beasts is an enjoyable read. The invention of the beasts definitely shows imagination. If you're looking for a good, subway read, this is it. There are a couple of overall flaws however that stunt its potential.

1. Allende misses out on some of the nuances of a good resolution (see Diana Wynne Jones' Power of Three or Homeward Bounders for an example of such resolutions), which are vital to the best fantasy. Part of Jones' secret is that she demystifies the fantastical, without taking away its danger or magic. A less-skilled fantasy author depends heavily on mystique to hide the formula.

2. Allende doesn't transfer to children's books what she understood perfectly well in House of Spirits--that readers will be drawn to hard characters without token words of kindness to soften them up. We don't have to like characters like Kate. We have to react to them. Overall, the book is imaginative, but in the post-Dahlian age of Tim Burton and Shock-headed Peter, softening a book for young readers is out of place.

City of the Beasts opens with Alexander Cold resenting the changes in his family now that his mother has cancer. His parents send Alexander to stay with his anti-cuddling Grandmother Kate while his mother undergoes chemotherapy.
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