Bound To Stay Bound

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 Wish in the dark
 Author: Soontornvat, Christina

 Publisher:  Candlewick Press (2020)

 Classification: Fiction
 Physical Description: 375 p.,  20 cm

 BTSB No: 835684 ISBN: 9781536204940
 Ages: 8-12 Grades: 3-7

 Fugitives from justice -- Fiction
 Bounty hunters -- Fiction
 Social status -- Fiction
 Fantasy fiction

Price: $22.08

When Pong escapes from prison, he realizes the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Nok, the prison warden's perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family's good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear.

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Reading Counts Information:
   Interest Level: 6-8
   Reading Level: 4.40
   Points: 19.0   Quiz: 78032

 Newbery Honor, 2021

   Kirkus Reviews (02/01/20)
   School Library Journal (02/01/20)
   Booklist (+) (02/01/20)
 The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/03/20)
 The Hornbook (00/05/20)

Full Text Reviews:

School Library Journal - 02/01/2020 Gr 4 Up–Years ago, the city of Chattana burned to the ground in a Great Fire and was thrown into chaos. The Governor restored peace to the city and powered it magically with orbs that gave light, heat, and power. Pong was born in Namwon Prison. Those lights represent freedom; but when he escapes from prison, he learns that the Governor controls who is in light and who is in darkness. In this society, everyone is beholden to the Governor and no one is truly free. Nok's father, born into society and now the prison warden, is disgraced when the 12-year-old Pong escapes. Unable to bear her father's shame, Nok embarks on a quest to find Pong and avenge her father's reputation. As she does, she learns that things are not always as fair and simple as she was taught in school. Nuanced questions of morality, oppression, and being defined by one's circumstances are compounded with exciting action in this novel inspired by Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. The characters are resonant, and the action is enhanced by the fantastical Thailand-like setting. VERDICT The original storyline and well-developed characters make this a standout novel. Highly recommended.—Julie Overpeck, Gardner Park Elementary School, Gastonia, NC - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Booklist - 02/01/2020 *Starred Review* A generation after the Great Fire razed the riverine city of Chattana, Pong was born in Namwon Prison. Now, he dreams of rising above his station and serving the Governor, who rescued civilization by outlawing fire and giving light to all through his unique magical power. After Pong learns that the Governor is, in fact, a fascist, he escapes Namwon, prompting the disgraced warden’s privileged daughter, Nok, to hunt him. Meanwhile, the oppressed of Chattana organize a peaceful revolt, and as Pong’s and Nok’s fates intertwine, they each must face hard truths about the oppressive systems installed by the Governor. This “Thai-inspired . . . twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables” explores social justice through two young characters from contrary social classes, with chapters alternating between their respective points of view. It’s a novel—a stand-alone, no less—that seems to have it all: a sympathetic hero, a colorful setting, humor, heart, philosophy, and an epic conflict that relates the complexity and humanity of social justice without heavy-handed storytelling. Soontornvat deftly blends it all together, salting the tale with a dash of magic that enhances the underlying emotions in this masterfully paced adventure. An important book that not only shines a light but also shows young readers how to shine their own. Luminous. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.

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