This debut YA novel follows the exploits of an imaginary breed of creature called “Humirrels,” a cross between squirrels and humans that lives on a cloud in the middle of the sea.
The story mainly follows the adventures of two young Humirrels: Ishmael, who, like many preteen and teenage boys, is impulsive and occasionally thoughtless, and Eveowna, who is more mature and rather prim. The two go to school together and, after Ishmael finds a trap door to another land in his backyard, travel to a new land. Interspersed with these episodes are scenes of Ishmael at home, usually locking horns with his mother, who’s doing her best to raise him to be a good little Humirrel. Meanwhile, there are typical childhood occurrences—getting in trouble for talking out of turn during class, fighting with a close friend, tension between parent and child. Kids and adults would find the corresponding lessons more palatable if they were coated with a bit more plot as opposed to being presented as plainly as a plate of undressed kale. Although the title implies that the novel will be of interest to teens up to 16 years old, in both style and content it seems aimed at a much younger audience. Much of the novel concerns itself with imparting the kinds of life lessons and appropriate behaviors instilled in children: obey one’s elders; going to school is important; be considerate toward others’ feelings; etc. Also, the text needs to be cleaned up, since commas are rather sorely abused: “At least they didn’t have to swim any more, for a long while at least, they could just relax.” With a lively imagination, George has clearly put a lot of time and care into crafting the Humirrel breed—for instance, when Humirrels blush, “their foreheads go a weird purple colour”—but these details are frequently inserted almost at random and not integrated into the overall narrative.
A YA novel that’s more didactic than entertaining.