Half-Brother, by Kenneth Oppel (2010)

Genre: Speculative Fiction
Interest level: 13-16
Half-BrotherBen is 13 years old when his father accepts a new job as a professor at a university in Victoria BC – it means leaving his friends and everything he knows behind in Ontario. But the move and his Dad’s new job come with an intriguing twist – the University is funding a research project in which the family “adopts” a newborn chimpanzee, to be raised as Ben’s brother Zan. At first uninterested, Ben becomes his little brother’s best friend, champion, protector and defender, roles that will sometimes conflict with his family, his new friends, and even his own ideals. The book was named the Canadian Library Association YA Book of the Year. Truthfully, I didn’t consider this a winner. The writing is not up to Oppel’s standards. It’s set in the 1970s, and I think he focused more on getting the details of the setting just right than on plot and voice. The ending won’t surprise anyone, it’s rather earnest, and I found the pacing plods at times. I enjoyed it for what it was – speculative YA fiction, but it’s not an award-winner in my opinion. Better choice (much better): Peter Dickson’s Eva.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7942534-half-brother


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