Peter Mcallister kicked open the door and tottered down the basement steps, looking like a box with no legs.
I’ve had the good fortune of watching this trilogy develop over the years on James’ blog. During the process of writing the books James often posted about the experience and various snippets along the way, so it was with a lot of anticipation (and not a small amount of sadness that it would soon be over) that I started to read the last installment of Rosemary and Peter’s adventures.
About the Book
Rosemary Watson and Peter McAllister think their future is clear: they’re finally heading off for university. They’re thinking about finding apartments, picking courses, living like adults.
But what happens when the future becomes the past? While helping Rosemary’s brother move into an apartment in Toronto, Peter and Rosemary fall into an underground river and are swept back in time, to Toronto in 1884. It’s a struggle to survive and adapt to the alien culture of the late nineteenth century. Peter and Rosemary are forced to work together, to live together, and to become the adults they’ve only been pretending to be.
As the days stranded turn to weeks, then months, Rosemary and Peter begin to wonder if they’re really ready for a future together – and what they will do if they can’t get back.
Then someone brings them a watch, powered by a battery, made in Taiwan.
We meet Peter & Rosemary in The Young City, just as they are just about ready to leave for college, and the passage of time since the events in Fathom Five very real and gives a fresh feel to the world, in this the final installment of James Bow’s The Unwritten Books series.
You can read my thoughts on the two previous novels in the series, also on this blog: The Unwritten Girl, & Fathom Five. But fear not, I don’t intend to be too spoilery here so feel free to read on! (If you do decide to skip the rest of my review however, be sure to read the note at the bottom of the post).
As Rosemary and Peter have grown up and matured, so have the things they have to deal with, and The Young City is as much about these elements, as is about them suddenly finding themselves in the past. As the synopsis suggests, they have only really been playing at being adults, up until now, so when they are forced in to a world, where real responsibility is thrust upon them and where you became an ‘adult’ at an earlier age, there is no hiding place in their relationship. How they grow and deal with that is one of the delights of the book.
In 1884 people didn’t ‘live in sin’ of course, so when they first arrive and it assumed they are already married, they have to play along, so the book naturally deals with sex and whether Peter & Rosemary are read for it, this is handled really nicely (and at times with some nice moments of humour). For this reader it is only right that it is brought up and dealt with, and in fact absolutely necessary, otherwise it would be a real injustice to the rest of their growth as a couple. (Parents with younger fans of the books may want to be aware of these elements, but really, I can’t see anyone having a problem with them.)
I’m not a history buff or a Canadian, but the 1884 Toronto world James’ drops them both into feels both real and genuine and different enough from any ‘past world’ I’ve come across in books before, to keep things interesting The sub-plot of their friend Faith for example, who is struggling to become one of the first female doctors in the country, intertwines nicely with Rosemary’s attempts and struggles from the other side of the time-difference fence, where she has to put aside her modern-day attitudes and morality to fit in with the rather more sexist conventions of the day.
Where in,The Unwritten Girl, the adventure was front and center in the tale, and then in Fathom Five it was still a massive element, but we also focused some more on Rosemary & Peter’s feelings and emotions. In The Young City, it is more something around which everything else is hung. The mystery as to how they got there, why and how (and indeed if) they can get back, is as intriguing as ever, but the bigger adventure of them accepting it and dealing with it, is what make the book such a delight and a perfect end to the series.
Other Reviews to Consider
Keep an eye out on this blog over the next few days, as I have a rather special author interview coming up with James!
Buy, The Young City, from The Book Depository. FREE WORLDWIDE DELIVERY!