Clay

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Clay Book Poster Image
Boys create a golem in this odd but provoking book.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will enjoy pondering the questions with Davie, and debating them.  Take, for example, the question raised by the main character himself: Can a person who does many bad things really be good?

Positive Messages

Some pretty big ideas, including the nature of good, evil, creativity, and God, and the complex relationships among them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Readers will find it easy to relate to Davie, who is both fascinated by the possibility of creating life, and guilty over his creation. 

Violence

A teen is pushed off a cliff to his death, several fights (one with a knife, though no serious injuries), beatings, and violent dreams, an attacking dog is hit with a rock.

Sex

Kissing, a rude reference to pregnancy, mooning.

Language

Moderate swearing: "hell," "damn," "bastard," etc. Much British slang.

Consumerism

Various British brands mentioned, such as Players cigarettes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Children smoke and drink altar wine, teens and adults drink and get drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a book that will encourage kids to think about some big issues. Davie's story has him wrestling with the nature of good, evil, creativity, and God, and the complex relationships among them. Readers will enjoy pondering the questions with Davie, and debating them. Take, for example, the question raised by the main character himself: Can a person who does many bad things really be good? The kids in this book sometimes behave badly -- they drink, smoke, fight, lie, steal, and in general behave like minor-league hooligans -- but what will really stick with readers is the imaginative story, and the issues it raises. Parents may want to spark -- or at least join in on -- the discussion.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byprincess annie April 17, 2010

brilliant for older kids and teens

i loved this book, its very gripping and i couldnt put it down.i would recomend this book. it was in my english class i started reading it and i didnt stop all... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysophiejayne March 11, 2010

perfect for teenagers

i think the book clay isnt very good. it is very confuseing with all the different characters, there is a lot of smokeing and swearing!!

What's the story?

Davie and his best mate Geordie are altar boys always up for a bit of trouble -- smoking, drinking stolen altar wine, fighting with the neighborhood toughs, avoiding Mouldy, who's a bigger tough than they can handle, and cadging tips at funerals. Then Stephen Rose comes to town. Stephen has come to live with his crazy aunt after his father died and his mother went insane and had to be locked up. The priest asks Davie to befriend him. Stephen has a real talent with sculpting clay. But more than that, he has a talent that he believes Davie shares -- to bring his creations to life. Together they sculpt a golem, a giant clay monster, and bring it to life to protect themselves from Mouldy. But Stephen's intentions go far beyond mere protection.

Is it any good?

David Almond writes some of the flat-out weirdest kids' books around. At their best, they are gorgeous, compelling, and powerful. Here Almond displays poetic lyricism, bizarre imagination, and complex emotional undercurrents, then binds it together with suspense and enough intriguing ideas to give thoughtful kids plenty to chew on.

There are layers upon layers, and good and evil intertwine. CLAY has lots British slang that may frustrate some young readers, but those who persevere will find this an edgy and exciting look at some pretty big ideas, including the nature of good, evil, creativity, and God, and the complex relationships among them, all wrapped up in early adolescent angst and uncertainty and bravado.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about other golem stories, such as Frankenstein. Why do you think people are intrigued by this idea?

  • Davies asks if a person who does many bad things can really be good. What do you think of this question?

Book details

For kids who love fantasy

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