Forever Young Adult book club. I'm a member of the Thursday night Boston group, which is filled with awesome ladies who love YA as much as I do. I'm always sad when I have to miss a meeting.
The Ruby in the Smoke, the first of the Sally Lockhart mysteries, by Philip Pullman is not a book I would ever have picked up if not for the book club. I have walked by it millions of times in the store, and even recommended it a few times to girls who wanted mysteries and historical fiction combined. I don't think I was wrong to walk by it. Not that it's a bad book - in fact, as far as Victorian mysteries aimed towards the teen set go, I think it's quite good. It's just not my cup of tea (insert bad Victorian London joke here).
Sally Lockhart, who was recently orphaned when her father sank along with his merchant ship off China, is a strong character whom I actually liked. She's determined to figure out what's happening, even when it takes her to the seedier side of London or has her experimenting with drugs. She's able to turn a photography business around with practically a single idea. She doesn't let the fact that she's an orphan with no home of her own get her down.
And yet, it takes another character (completely out of the blue, I might add) to solve the mystery of where this ruby is hiding. Really, Pullman, after all these pages of Sally being kick-ass and smart, you leave the actual mystery solving to a boy?!
Like I said, I just don't like mysteries (in the typical sense of the word). I especially don't like Victorian mysteries (although I don't mind other books that take place in Victorian times). My other book club read The Moonstone (the first British mystery novel) last year, and this reminded me of it very much - plodding and slow, and then everything happens at once. I hated every minute of The Moonstone.
And yes, I did watch the BBC movie version of this book as well. I couldn't help it - it stars Billie Piper and Matt Smith. It was cute, but it dumbed down some of the more interesting aspects of the story. I'd rather read the book than watch the movie again.
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