Friday, May 22, 2009

The Penalty, by Mal Peet

In the second Paul Faustino novel by Mal Peet we are once again drawn into a world of mystery surrounding a famous soccer star. After superstar El Brujito simply disappears, Faustino is thrown into the deepest, darkest parts of South America to find him. The story is intertwined with vast African American history and culture, including flashbacks to the life of a slave boy almost 100 years ago when practicing magic and selling people was the norm. Faustino is forced to follow around crooks and off shore criminals while taken captive, to write the story that was never his. He learns to reserve trust and experiences things that a reporter never expects to face.
After the first Mal Peet novel, Keeper, I was expecting further information on El Gato's story. But that was not to be. After immersing myself in the new situations created surrounding El Brujito's disappearance, and the spiritual flashbacks I was intrigued. The differences and correlations Peet shows between the two story lines really made you feel like you were there.He made it easy to sympathize and celebrate with the main characters. This book included less football technicalities which was good for the not so fanatical, but I found myself a little lost during some of the major spiritual scenes and action scenes. The Penalty was definitely a worthwhile read, filled with excitement, deception and passion.
Some scary and violent scenes are described.
Melbourne , Victoria Australia