Friday, December 20, 2013

Review: The Kensington Reptilarium by N.J. Gemmell

Title: The Kensington Reptilarium
Author: N.J. Gemmell
Genre: Children's Fiction
Source: RandomHouse Australia. Thank you!

Goodreads | The Reading Room

The Caddy Kids are home alone and they're having the best time ever. Until a stranger arrives with news...

This is the story of how four loud, grubby urchins from the Australian outback find themselves in London for the first peacetime Christmas after years of war.

But their new guardian hates children. He prefers the company of hundreds of snakes in his house- the Kensington Reptilarium.

Fate lends Kick, Scruff, Bert and Pin a helping hand when outraged citizens call for the Reptilarium to be shut down. With the police about to descend, can the Caddy kids warm Uncle Basti's heart- and have their Christmas wishes granted- before it's too late?

A feel-good tale that will have you cheering on these four fearless bush kids as they take on the world.
Review by Nara

Seriously people, look at that cover! It's so cute! And great attention to detail- in print form, the spine has a nice reptile skin pattern and texture. And ermahgerd all the little critters crawling around on the title text. It's just great.

One thing that was very distinctive about this book was that there was a very Australian narrative voice. There were also numerous references to Australian things and Australian slang, so I feel like it might have been hard to get used to if you're not used to an Aussie accent and such. But this strong narrative voice did make the book a bit more interesting to read.

I feel on the whole, none of the characters particularly wowed me. I mean, I do have to say that they were all pretty unique- with their fancy names and outback nicknames- but I feel like none of them were really that likeable. Not that they were dislikeable either. I just had no strong feelings either way. Although I do have to say that Basti was borderline insane. One minute he'd be really welcoming to the Caddy siblings with fun and games, and the next he'd be yelling at them to get out of the house all "NO CHILDREN!". I guess there were reasons why he acted that way, though, and I suppose he really did redeem himself by the end of the novel.

I think my main problem with this book was that it really just wasn't the book for me. It's definitely a book for younger readers- I'd say maybe ages 8-12 or thereabouts. I guess it's somewhat obvious from the cute cover. It was an okay book, and I think my rating probably just reflects how I'm just a bit too old to be really enjoying this type of book. Because I do feel like it would have been the type of book I might have enjoyed when I was in primary school. I would still recommend this book- but only to younger readers.

It was okay

Overall: 6/10
Plot: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 5/5


  1. I do agree that that cover is really cute. I think this one would work for me since I still have a big part of me that's clamoring to read MG books. And I am quite interested with the Australian narrative voice of this one and see how it differs from American and British books.

    And I think I would love Basti seeing that he's on the verge of instanity. Bahahaha. I think a lot of MG characters are really made that way...If you're familiar with Roald Dahl, a lot of characters are insane too... Maybe, it really clicks well with kids.

    Great review, Nara. At Least you still enjoyed this one despite it not suiting your age anymore.

    1. I honestly don't even know if it's middle grade, it seems for even younger readers than that. (I class MG as about 12-15 yr olds). But if you want to give a book with an Aussie narrative voice, this is a pretty good example haha. A very country-style one though!

      I love Roald Dahl! But those are insane in good ways. Basti is insane in a what the heck type way :P

  2. OOoooo that cover looks great & this book sounds really intriguing! I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one even if it more suited towards 8-12 year olds! Awesome review :)

    1. The cover is even better in real life haha. The spine has a reptile skin pattern :D (the orange bit)