The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
This is one of my favourites – it’s the kind of book you read and wonder why you haven’t read it earlier.
Ted and his sister Kat have their cousin Salim down from Up North to visit them in London before he and their aunt move over to America. They decide to show him the sights before he leaves and including the Millenium Wheel aka The London Eye. Once they get there though they realise that they can only afford the one ticket, so they put Salim on it, watch his pod go round and round and round, they wait at the entrance and…. he nevers gets off.
Very interesting story with a unique viewpoint – Ted has autism. Or Aspergers. It’s never actually mentioned and I’m certainly no expert but it’s left to the reader to assume one of the two of Ted. He thinks differently to everyone else and in his own words ‘It’s like a brain is a computer… but mine works on a different operating system from other people’s. And my wiring’s different too.’. Makes a nice change and it is central to solving the mystery of where Salim has gone, as only Ted and his way of thinking can get down to the bones of the issue without all the worry and emotional handwringing that his aunt, uncle and parents are going through. Unlike A Dog Called Homeless, which I also loved because it featured a kid who differs from the norm, Ted’s different way of thinking is central to the plot, but only because of how it benefits him. I’d love to read an autistic or Aspergers reader’s point of view on this book – what do they make of Ted?
It’s a very clever plot and I was genuinely left scratching my head as to how Salim left the London Eye right up until the end. I did predict where Salim ended up, but I think that’s more because I’ve read so many books that were similar rather than through any lack in the writing. Kat was a great foil to Ted – I couldn’t help feeling she was put in there for the reader to identify with as she marvelled at her brother’s approach to Salim’s disappearance. Plus anyone with an older sister can sympathise with Ted and his complete befuddlement with his sister’s mad behaviour!
Suitable for both boys and girls (no overly girly or overly boy-ey characters here, nice and gender neutral), this is one of those books that every school and library should have, even if they’re not in London. So what it’s set there, you don’t have to have a taxi driver’s Knowledge or a Lonely Planet guide to hand to get absorbed by the plot. In fact, the only real link to London is the London Eye itself, otherwise this could be a story set in any other city in England. I loved this book and I will definitely be reviewing some of the author’s reads for teens in the next few weeks.