Robert Inferno and the sacred stones of Ayers Rock by Jamie Armstrong, Book Guild Publishing Ltd
Review by Ann M Mair
Regretfully, I found this book a waste of time. It is clearly not aimed at me. I felt no empathy with any character, nor any delight in the language used. I took some time trying to analyse what was unsatisfactory. The cover was OK. The setting, Australia was different and promising. It was short at 108 pages and posed no difficulty in completing, in simple prose. But I didn’t enjoy it.
It is possible that it is aimed at boys. I quote a few instances ‘the girls gasped in amazement’, ‘it seemed best to say nothing until the day of the party, in case the girls got nervous’, ‘well, Robert and I were a bit worried about bringing you girls along’, ‘don’t frighten the girls’. This leads me to conclude a casual sexism on the part of the author or perhaps a wish to appeal to boys.
Similarly, there was a consciousness, a particularity of race, a care to use four separate races of student as the protagonists, but then this was ignored in the story. The aborigines however were used as very separate group as a them, as opposed to an us. A set to be called on to provide strength of numbers in an altercation. Gingo is a source of information very different from the university staff. He is called upon when needed to provide guidance and a force of persons of his tribe to provide backup as necessary.
A very modern view of the power of crystals was the theme of the story. They were the sacred stones of the title. Each person linked to a different stone thus master of a different power. Naturally the government became interested in the recruitment to Australia’s service. This utterly ignored the fact the students belonged to the four corners of the world.
Ayers rock did not appear much in the story except as the source of the crystals. No explanation was given that I remember why the crystals were to be the right of the persons possessing them or why they were awakening the powers inherent in them. The characters were carboard without much emotions.
The book looked like it had been written to a set of guidelines for a reluctant reader, who had been set to write a book report and chosen something short. I don’t recommend it to a reader looking to get pleasure from it.