'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 10 July 2010

Review: Henry Hoey Hobson

Title: Henry Hoey Hobson

Author: Christine Bongers

Publisher: Random House, $16.95 RRP

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781864719956

For ages: 8 – 12

Type: Novel

About: Henry Hoey Hobson is the only boy in a sea of Year 7 girls at his new school, and he’s not happy.

To make matters worse, they’ve seen him moving a coffin with his strange neighbours and now they all think he’s a vampire. Henry agrees that his neighbours may in fact be creatures of the night themselves, and he does not want to be associated with them.

Henry’s mother is keen to make friends with the neighbours and insists on taking her son to their house and asking them to look after him while she works to secure their future together.

Little does she know that the people whose trust she is seeking actually have a very big secret, one that is behind the reason for the all the moves she and Henry have made throughout his life.

Beginning with wonderfully unique, descriptive phrases such as “I lumbered towards the all-female pride, a wildebeest, hell-bent on his own destruction”, I was excited to read Henry Hoey Hobson and the adventures of this twelve-year-old boy struggling in life. I read the first few chapters with intrigue, barely able to wait to turn each page.

Unfortunately, after those initial dozens of pages, the story lost its way and I spent the rest of the time making an effort to pick up the book.

From a story about a schoolboy lost, surrounded by girls teasing him and gossiping about whether he is in fact a vampire, this becomes a tale of dysfunctional neighbours, mothers and fathers, swimming carnivals and friends, with no further mention of the mean schoolgirls or the lovely eager-to-please principal.

Readers must leap from wanting to know how Henry’s school life pans out to having an interest in his home life and that of his neighbours. That might be okay, until then our intrigue is met with a lack of answers. What became of the mysterious drawings by Anders? The coffin that was such a focus in the lead-up to the story becomes nothing but an esky. There is no message gained from any of the teasing – it simply stops suddenly. An interesting storyline revolving around the secret purchase of a house is opened, but never completed or mentioned again.

And those beautiful turns of phrase that gave the mind some distinct visual stimulation? They never appear again after the introduction.

I am sorry to say that I was disappointed by Henry Hoey Hobson.

This book is available online

Author website

Teacher's notes