THE YOUNG INFERNO by John Agard

THE YOUNG INFERNO

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Age Range: 12 - 15
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KIRKUS REVIEW

“In the middle of my childhood wonder / I woke to find myself in a forest / that was—how shall I put it—wild and sombre.” Using Dante’s Inferno as his model, Agard sends a teenage narrator on a tour of Hell, squired by a fable-spouting Aesop rather than Virgil and encountering not only Charon, Mammon and their traditional like but Einstein and the Furies, here pictured as a street gang. Despite Kitamura’s jagged, smudgy black-and-white figures (some of which will be recognizable to contemporary readers), the trek never acquires much emotional or poetic intensity as, unlike Dante, the author seldom names names, finishes up in an abbreviated 13 Cantos and skips over any mention of Lucifer. He also closes by having the narrator hook up with Beatrice (billed by Aesop with a wink as “The Good Fairy”) in the library: “I danced in the chemistry of her eyes / and I could have chilled out there for ever.” Steer readers who can’t face the original to Marcus Sanders and Sandow Birk’s weirdly campy but grand illustrated rendition, Dante’s Divine Comedy (2004). (Poetry. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-84507-769-3
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2009




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