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Riot by Walter Dean Myers

RiotIt’s the summer of 1863 in New York City. The Civil War is well underway, dividing not only the nation but its people. A federally instituted draft only incites the brewing conflict faster. Angry Irish immigrants flood the streets, looting stories and attacking blacks whom they blame for many of their problems. The army has been brought in to put the riots down, but violence still abounds. Caught in the midst of this, fifteen-year-old Claire is confronted with the difficulty of having both Irish and African American heritage. In a situation with very little middle ground, which side will Claire choose?

Riot is a novel with an interesting topic but a less than thrilling execution. This novel is written in the style of a screenplay, which is unique but a little odd considering I don’t believe it’s supposed to be one. Because of this strict format which only allows for scene descriptions, character actions, different “camera” angles, and dialogue, I found it very difficult to get into the story. Another negative side effect of this structure is that there is little if any direct characterization, and readers must glean what they can about characters based on mainly events, actions, and dialogue. I personally found it hard to fully understand many of the characters because I didn’t know that they were thinking, which the rare soliloquy did little to remedy. If it weren’t for this story, I think I might’ve been more into the story since the Civil War and race relations are fascinating and important parts of American history. For what it’s worth, the historical events discussed, particularly the New York City draft riots, were portrayed relatively accurately, but unfortunately, the story was just boring as a whole. Perhaps it’s only the screenplay style, but Riot was just not a book for me.

Fans of historical novels just as Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher and A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly may still enjoy this stylistically untraditional novel.

Rating: 2.75

Review copy from publisher EgmontUSA

2 munch(es) :

The Book Owl said...

Hmm, I'm not sure about this book, but I love A Northern Light, so I might have to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Not a great book.

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