Clay by David Almond

almond_clayToday I’m bringing you a buddy review with Darren of Bart’s Bookshelf! We’re doing this in the same style that Kelly and I normally do ours. We both asked each other 3 questions and we’re both answering all 6. First I wanted to tell you a little bit about what Clay is about. This is my first Almond book and it certainly won’t be my last. He tells an amazing and often eerie tale about two young boys in England, Davie and Geordie, best friends with a sworn enemy who are asked to make friends with a new boy named Stephen by the local priest. This boy seems odd and comes attached to a bizarre history. He’s been kicked out of seminary school there are rumors of devilish behavior that are soon to be brought to light at Stephen sculpts his beautiful clay figures and breathes life into them.

1. What did you think of the ambience/mood of the book?

Personally, I loved it. It changed so many times and went from being nostalgic and carefree to being one of the creepiest books I’ve read in ages. There were scenes that I thought captured the innocence of childhood perfectly. Scenes of Davie and Geordie hiding out in their cave and playing together and serving as altar boys…it reminded me of my own childhood. And then there were the scenes with Stephen who was more than a little unsettling at times. There was one scene in particular that just sent chills down my spine. The scene where he first brings the clay to life. Terrifying stuff really. The mood of the book almost reminded me a bit of Ray Bradbury in that he captured childhood innocence so well yet evoked a sense of fear and mystery at the same time…sort of like Something Wicked This Way Comes.

2. Did you have any sympathy for Stephen, the antagonist of the book?

I did have sympathy for Stephen, though at times, it became harder and harder…especially towards the end. But Stephen was a troubled child who certainly comes from a very troubled past. It’s hard to tell with Almond how much of this book was meant to be taken as reality and how much of this was symbolic, but there was a lot of evil to this kid. But what is evil and where does it come from? I don’t think that Stephen is pure evil, though I think he was created to represent that at times. But his evilness is the sum of his experiences in his all too short life. That’s why I have sympathy for him.

3. What, if anything did you think Almond had to say about religion with this book?

I think Almond had quite a lot to say about religion with this book, I’m just not exactly sure what that is yet. It may hit me in about 3 months from now. There are quite a bit of religious undertones and overtones to this novel. It’s not subtle. But he never smacks you over the head with it. I don’t think it’s a pro or anti religious book. I think he’s saying that anything in it’s extreme is dangerous, including religion. But at the same time, I think that he’s showing us with certain characters and certain aspects that religion can be a good thing for those that choose to turn to it as their support. As long as it’s used as a support and not an excuse or a solve all.

4. Do you have a favourite section to share?

I do 🙂

“I watched the dust tumbling through the light, gathering on us. I watched the clay figure taking shape between his hands.

‘Watch this’ he said.

The Figure was tiny, delicate, half formed, not like the other formless, soulless lumps, but like a baby, half made. He lifted it to his lips.

“Move,” he whispered to it, “Move, my little one.”

That was the exact moment where the story took a creepy turn for me!

5. I asked Kelly the same question when we reviewed Kit’s Wilderness together… What did you think of the setting? Could you picture it in your mind? What did you think of the accents? (Why, yes I am cheating and using 3 questions in 1!)

I LOVED the setting. I could absolutely picture it in my mind. I pictured a little English country side suburb type town where everyone knew each other with a town church and a little cave in the meadow where the boys would go hang out. It was just fantastic to me. I think that Almond did a fantastic job of creating it. The accents were perfect! I really loved them and they were so unique to anything else I had ever read as far as British accents go. I was actually wondering, Darren, if you were familiar with this type of accent 😉 And if so, can you PLEASE tell me what the hell “Howay” means!! That was killing me, lol.

6. Almond, chooses not to answer most of the questions he poses in the book. What do you think about that?

It didn’t bother me so much….honestly, I’ve always sort of like books that left answers unanswered. Now…if they’re plot related questions, that drives me nuts!!! If they’re more philosophical questions or whatever happened to so and so…that’s fine. I don’t need to know what happened eventually with all of the characters in this book. And I don’t need the answers to all of the questions that he made me ask myself when it comes to religion and fate and what makes us do the things we do and the motivations we all have….I like to think on that stuff….so I’m glad that he opens those up for discussion.

As you can tell by now, I HIGHLY recommend that everyone read this book and there will certainly be LOTS more Almond in my future 🙂 Thanks for reading this with me Darren!!! Head on over to Bart’s Bookshelf to read his answers!!!!

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9 Responses

  1. One day, yes, I will read something by David Almond. Probably next year.

  2. This one sounds like a book that my son would be interested in reading. I’ve thought about picking it up but have passed on it. I enjoyed your review a lot and maybe it will change my mind one day when I see this book at the library!!

  3. I will have to read this before long. I read three books by Almond this year, though, so I am not in a huge hurry, but I will read it before long!

  4. Well, I read Darren’s post first, and the plot description sounded interesting, but he didn’t sound so thrilled about it, but now you’ve got me wondering if I hadn’t better read this after all!

  5. I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of David Almond! But this book sounds fantastic! *Sigh* I wish you guys would start reviewing books that I don’t want to read. I don’t think I will ever catch up to my never ending TBR pile!

  6. Oooh, I am drooling with anticipation reading this review! Sounds amazing, but then I absolutely adored Skellig. So off to the shops I go! Thanks!

  7. I have never heard of this book or the author before. I now want to give this a go as it sounds brilliant, and what a great cover!!

  8. That cover creeped me out even before I started reading the review! 🙂 I think this one may be a little too far out there for me.

  9. I have been meaning to get a copy of this for ages, David Almond is a remarkable writer, you should check out Skellig a truly awesome and memorable book, I think it was his first novel and he won the Carnegie medal for that one, I can highly reccomend it. Thanks for the great review and reminding me to get a move on and read Clay.

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