Here's one of the strange things about writing a novel: once I've finished it, and it's been edited by the publishers, there is usually a nine to twelve month lag before it appears in bookstores and libraries and people actually start reading it. Of course, a few people have already read it: my wife and kids, my literary agents, my editors in Toronto and New York and London, and various other marketing and sales people at my publishers....
But the fact is, I have to wait a long, long time before I start seeing magazine reviews of the book, and hearing back from my readers. Fortunately, so I don't go insane, I'm busy with other things, namely writing a whole new book -- but it is a bit agonizing to have to wait so long before I know what people think of the one that's about to be published.
Luckily, over the past weeks, I've started getting some early feedback from people who have read advanced readers copies (ARCs) of Half Brother.
As publication day fast approaches (September 1st) I thought I'd share some of these early comments here on my blog. They are from a wide variety of people across North America: teachers, librarians, university instructors, and teenaged fans of my earlier books.
So here's what readers are saying about Half Brother:
"It's a brilliant book. I can't say enough great things about it My son (he's 12) read Half Brother in two days. He said it was the best of all your books. I would have to agree!"
"Just finished Half Brother -- stayed up until midnight and hated to put it down, but wrapped it up this aft. What a COOL book. So different from anything else out there. Really made me think.... I like the way you did so much with characterization in this book. Everyone f elt very three-dimensional and real... heartbreakingly so at times.
--Martha Brack Martin
"I just finished Half Brother today with tears streaming down my face. What a great read! So glad I won the ARC. Thanks.
"I finished reading Half Brother and it was one of my favourite books you have written. This is a beautiful story about the value and importance of family. It made me think about what really counts and matters in a person. Your writing keeps evolving and growing. I hope Half Brother receives all the success and praise it deserves.
--Colin, age 19
"I finished the advanced copy of Half Brother you sent. Wonderful! Fantastic writing once again. I won't hesitate to buy copies for my libraries and recommend it to students. A pleasure, as always, to read one of your books. Thanks again and best of luck and much success with this new one!
"I finally had a chance to sit down and read Half Brother (I'd been waiting until I had a couple of days without too much else going on) -- great book! It was both precisely what I'd expect from an Oppel book (well-written, great characters, suspenseful plot, intelligent) and not at all what I'd expect (seems to me that you're charting new directions in your writing?). I was particularly impressed by the complicated mixture of personal (Ben's budding adolescence), political (animal rights) and social (subtle explorations of class struggle and gender relations). Setting it in the early 1970s was also very effective (and not just because it was like a visit to my own boyhood... minus the chimp).
"I thought Half Brother was incredibly awesome. I really didn't know what to expect given that I'm most familiar with your Airborn series, but this was a pleasant surprise. I love how you were able to give the story a teenager's perspective -- a very believable one at that. The relationship between Zan and Ben was so sweet; I especially liked the part where Zan is comforting Ben.... Your book was very honest in the sense that if shows that not everything works out the way you planned, and that you have to be willing to meet in the middle to ensure that it's not only you that will be happy in the end. In sum, your book was refreshing. Thank you for letting me have the chance to read such a great book.
--Ruchita, age 16