The Reviewer Man

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Refuge by Libby Gleeson

Refuge by Libby GleesonUnited States – $68.68 (Amazon.com) – price not recommended
Canada – $25.01 (Alibris)
United Kingdom – GBP 15.00 (Amazon.co.uk)
Australia – RRP $11.95, online $30.11 (Alibris)

Refuge, by Libby Gleeson, was one of many books written about the plight of the East Timorese before their independence in 2002. However, published in 1998, Refuge was one of the only young adults’ books written about the subject.

The book details Andrew and his sister Anna, a student activist. The story starts with Anna complaining about university fees, however as relationships change, passions change and she quickly adapts to her new boyfriend Marcus’s passion, East Timor. The Australian Immigration Department is ‘deciding’ whether a number of East Timorese should be allowed to stay in Australia or sent to Portugal, the former colonial administrator of the small island near Indonesia. Andrew is pulled into hiding one asylum seeker, Rosa, in their spare room without his parents’ permission.

Andrew also battles his own feelings throughout the book. He is 14 and shows a somewhat juvenile (as in, below what he is capable of) approach to developing a relationship for his sweetheart Kim. However, the two tales entwine as ‘babysitting’ Rosa proves a problem for Andrew’s scheduling skills with Kim.

The story is told from Andrew’s perspective in the present tense, keeping to the third person (for example, ‘After they leave he goes downstairs…’), a technique not commonly used in fiction books. However, this approach to writing occasionally hinders the flow of the book, which would otherwise be uninterrupted. I feel that using the past tense (‘After they left he went downstairs’) would have been more useful to Gleeson and it would be interesting to discover why the present tense was used.

Gleeson takes great care detailing the East Timorese conflict, using Rosa as the character to convey emotion. Using a character who has experienced the conflict is much more effective than using an outsider’s report in my opinion, and the author has mastered this art to radiate meaning from the book.

More recently, authors like Morris Gleitzman have written about refugees – he with his books Boy Overboard and Girl Underground, telling the story of Jamal and Bibi, two Afghan asylum seekers who were denied entry to Australia. The reader is left shocked, that after reflecting on the experiences the two had faced, the Australian government denied them entry.

Back on the subject, Gleeson has demonstrated a magnificent skill of literature in Refuge, however I would have liked the book to be longer. Because of this unfortunate aspect, my rating is:

3.7

December 31, 2007 Posted by | Books, Young adult fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daddy Day Camp

Promotional poster for Daddy Day CampUnited States – 8 August 2007, PG
Canada – 10 August 2007, G/PG
United Kingdom – 19 October 2007, U
Australia – 29 November 2007, PG

Daddy Day Camp: predictable and so very run-of-the-mill.

The sequel to Daddy Day Care, a funny and entertaining 2003 film, Daddy Day Camp was over before it even started for the six in the small cinema I saw the movie. I could ‘read it like a book’ and knew the ending a third of the way through the movie.

Like many sequels, the movie reeks of the ‘try-hard’ feeling you get when the screenwriters add in unfunny gags you’ve seen before. Flatulence jokes might appear hilarious to the analytical four year old, but those with more years behind them would find this movie not so enjoyable. After all, this is a movie aimed at kids.

The plot follows Charlie Hinton, played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. as he attempts to run a day camp for children, after his refusal to send his child to Camp Canola, a camp he has held a grudge since it won the Camp Olympics when he was a child.

It was the typical story: dad gets over protective, grandad runs the place differently, dad gets annoyed and starts fighting with him.

The characters played their part well, except I would be rather upset with acting in a movie like Daddy Day Camp.

Overall, Daddy Day Camp was an unnecessary sequel: I rate it 2/5.

December 31, 2007 Posted by | 2007, Family, Movies | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LocoRoco for PlayStation Portable

 LocoRoco for PSP European game coverFOUR STARS
Genre: Puzzle
United States – US$29.99 (Amazon.com) Rating: E
Canada – CAN$29.99 (Amazon.ca) Rating: E
United Kingdom – GBP£14.44 (Amazon.co.uk) Rating: 3+
Australia – AU$29.99 (Target Australia) Rating: G

Sony’s PlayStation Portable was labelled a failure by many critics however one thing Sony has succeeded in is the game LocoRoco.

 Everything about this game is simple. Its controls are simple, its plot is simple and the characters are simple. Far, far away, the LocoRoco planet is being invaded by the evil Moja Troop who look like a Rastafarian’s hair when moving. The player must simply complete levels and repopulate the planet with LocoRocos. The sole goal in LocoRoco is to complete the levels, however on the way berries and other trinkets are on offer. It is terribly difficult to collect every single item in every single level, however finishing each level is no challenge at all.

 The controls are just as simple. Gamers cannot directly control the LocoRoco: rather they must use the left and right shoulder buttons on the PSP to ’tilt’ the environment to set the jelly-like ball rolling. Jumping is achieved by pressing both buttons simultaneously. Players may take some time to master the controls but once they do they have got them for good.

Apart from the main levels, gamers can indulge in mini-games such as Mui Mui Crane, where players must control a crane to pick up items such as more LocoRocos and items for the Loco House.

The LocoRoco main game will last a long time for those who wish to collect every item, but for those who get bored there is a Loco House where players must construct living quarters for LocoRocos using various items obtainable in the main game and the minigames. 

There is a downside to this game. The main plot gets boring after a while, as the levels repeat their style (but not structure) six times before the endgame. You can get over this unfortunate problem by playing the game in short periods only, however most would agree that the LocoRocos’ cute faces and addictive levels could make this a problem.

The graphics are very sharp, however childish they may seem. The soundtrack is very good, although it could be called ‘muzak’ as it is repetitive. The LocoRocos speak ‘LocoRoco language’ which appears as complete gibberish to players around the world – the aim of the game designer, Tsutomu Kounu.

 I’d recommend this game for anybody (except for those who don’t like cute things, of course). It’s a one size fits all game and would be suitable for most people. All in all I’m going to give this game a 4/5. The reason for the 1/5 decrease is the monotonous level aspect of the game. You’re in for a treat if you purchase LocoRoco. Give it a go!

December 30, 2007 Posted by | Games, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Portable games | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to The Reviewer Man

Hello there, and welcome to The Reviewer Man! I’ll be aiming to provide reviews on products I’ve used and will be giving the pros and cons of products such as the big things (PlayStation Portable) to the small things (LocoRoco, a game for the PSP). I’ll be writing about both in the near future. I hope to have some competitions up in the future (win something I’m reviewing) and other ‘innovative’ ideas.

How rude of me, I haven’t introduced myself. My name is Brandon, the Reviewer Man. I go by this name because the internet is being invaded by corporate advertisers advertising their junk through viral marketing (all Sony wanted for Christmas is a PSP?) and other hopeless pushes to sell more products, the reason being that their product is ‘good’ and ‘better than the rest’ on the market. I hope to prove that their product is good – if it’s not, you’ll hear about it.

If you want me to review something in particular please email thereviewerman@gmail.com. Likewise, if you’d like to contact me for any other reason (suggestions, etc.) please email the same address.

December 30, 2007 Posted by | Administration | , , | 1 Comment