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The Manual of Detection. Penguin Group. ISBN-10:
0143116517. Litland.com recommends ages 14+ and
acceptable for advanced readers.
Publisher Description: Reminiscent of
imaginative fiction from Jorge Luis Borges to Jasper
Fforde yet dazzlingly original, The Manual of Detection
marks the debut of a prodigious young talent. Charles
Unwin toils as a clerk at a huge, imperious detective
agency located in an unnamed city always slick with
rain. When Travis Sivart, the agency's most illustrious
detective, is murdered, Unwin is suddenly promoted and
must embark on an utterly bizarre quest for the missing
investigator that leads him into the darkest corners of
his soaking, somnolent city. What ensues is a noir
fantasy of exquisite craftsmanship, as taut as it is
mind- blowing, that draws readers into a dream world
that will change what they think about how they think.
Respect for self and others: This
includes integrity (adherence to a code of
conduct or value system), honesty vs. manipulation or
lying, compassion, caring for others (characters not
focused on getting their way no matter what) self
respect--main character does not let others
denigrate him or her; use of self control and
self-discipline ; taking charge of own behaviour;
fairness to others (such as taking turns and
avoiding the blame game). Reader should ask themselves
“How does the protagonist depict their peers?” “Would
you want others to treat you this way? Should everyone
act this way?” This includes true friendships
that do not involve regular lying, deceit or
manipulation; considering consequences of actions
prior to acting; owning up to responsibility once
an action has been taken.
Charles Unwine wrestles constantly with wanting to
shrink away into oblivion, while knowing he must forge
ahead and do the right thing: correct errors in past
investigations. He is sufficiently cunning to out-think
his adversaries and so does not need to lower himself to
lies, manipulation or deceit. A belief in himself and
full of self-discipline, he is relentless and perseveres.
Portrayal of Authority
figures: The positive portrayal of parents, teachers, police officers and other “good” authority figures common in a child’s life is a positive influence upon the child’s own moral development. This includes
actively-parenting mother and father figures. Minimization of parental involvement in the character’s activities or the portrayal of authority figures as
inferior present poor role models. Also to be avoided are main characters that
deceive parents and teachers to accomplish goals, and overuse
sarcasm towards authority figures. Ask yourself “Are parents seen as positive or negative influence in the character's life?”
All characters respect the bureaucracy for which they
work; no negative portrayals.
Patriotism: Loyalty to family, team or group, school, community and world; caring for and being considerate of these
groups. Pride to be part of that group or nationality.
Unwine shows unwavering loyalty to his organization as
well as to the ideal of truth.
Justice and Balance: A just distribution between good and evil (with
good outweighing evil in the presence of the storyline);
demonstration of right and wrong; making decisions to enact the above values rather than simply choosing from two bad possibilities; Ask yourself “Is the emphasis on the positive elements or negative?”
This is an excellent story of the shy underdog,
under-estimated by his adversaries, overcoming all
obstacles and winning. In a surreal world, right vs.
wrong continue to be very clear. Evil is used for good
to overcome and is never over-emphasized.
Aesthetic aspects Of
life ExperienceLook for a storyline portrayal of
beauty, health, and selfless love vs. hedonistic behaviours (sexuality, selfishness, obsessiveness, materialism),
profanity, gore and violence. Are nature and environment respected or exploited? Look for
dark elements; watch out for humor that is negative, denigrates others excessively, uses metaphors to
denigrate the sacred.
The aesthetics of this story are what set it apart.
Although a detective mystery, it has a surreal
other-world feel to it with a mild coating of science
fiction. Dialogue and narrative are rich in description,
so that the reader is pulled into this world before they
know it. Yet, in spite of its many characters and
settings, it is not so complicated as to tire the
reader. A very “colorful” story.
Other things to
Consider:Other aspects of this book of interest or importance. For example, does it portray Wiccan practices and accurate use of tools of which some parents might object, does it contain
hidden meanings in metaphors that may prove offensive to some families; does it address
personal issues such as puberty or pregnancy.
hidden agendas, sexuality, perversity or gore. Only a
few instances of profanity. The focus of the book is as
it should be: on rich character and setting development.
So what do YOU think? Read our thoughts on the book and join in the discussion:
to reviews for ages 14+]