Brilliant by Roddy Doyle


Addition:Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2014
Rating: 3 out of 5

When Uncle Ben’s Dublin business fails, it’s clear to Gloria and Raymond that something is wrong. He just isn’t his usual cheerful self. So when the children overhear their granny saying that the Black Dog has settled on Ben’s back and he won’t be OK until it’s gone, they decide they’re going to get rid of it. Gathering all their courage the children set out on a midnight quest to hunt down the Black Dog and chase it away. But they aren’t the only kids on the mission. Loads of other children are searching for it too, because the Black Dog is hounding lots of Dublin’s adults. Together – and with the help of magical animals, birds and rodents – the children manage to corner the Black Dog …but will they have the courage and cleverness to destroy the frightening creature?

I received this book from Netgalley to give an honest review.

I saw this book on Netgalley and was quite excited about it. However, my first impressions weren’t that good. The first chapter is a couple of dogs having a conversation about the human who lived in the house between their homes. It was a bit odd. I read the first chapter, and seriously considered stopping the book. I decided the following day to try the book again and I did actually enjoy it.

The story follows Gloria and Raymond after their Uncle Ben has had to move in with them as money is an issue for him. They overhear their parents mumbling and realise that the Black Dog of Depression has settled on Uncle Ben’s back. They know immediately what they must do – they must fight the Black Dog. They set off in the night, ready to face the Dog.

I was surprised how entertaining this book was. Like I said, the first chapter put me off but once I read some more, I was hooked. Could they do it? How would they do it? I quite liked the children, but they were not my favourite characters. My favourite was Ernie – a child who has become a vampire because his parents told him he needs to get a job. Most of what he said had me chuckling. I also liked the meerkats and the seagulls. They were very entertaining.

I did enjoy this book. I found myself scooped up into the adventure with the children of Dublin. I did get quite wrapped up in the story and felt like I was running the streets with the children. This was a good book. One thing I did really like about this book is the effect words can have. There was a lot of emphasis on how a positive word can change situations. I know this isn’t a Christian book, but it did remind me of this verse in Proverbs:

A soft answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger. [Proverbs 15:1]

This is a children’s book, but that didn’t put me off. As an adult, I enjoyed this book. I even recommended this book to my Mum for her students at secondary school.

I didn’t like the beginning of this book, but I am pleased I kept reading. The book has an original storyline, there is adventure and suspense, and there are some great characters in this story. I rate this book 3 out of 5 and think older children and young adults will enjoy this book, as well as adults!


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