Really good books for children are rather rare to one who deosn’t have a penchant and desire to laboriously scour the shelves of a local Waterstones retailer for hours; a search that too often ends in an underwhelming ‘Twilight’ rip-off that is the exact same as the aforementioned teenage novel, absolute drivel. Nevertheless, stumbling upon ‘The Wish List’ was a pleasant surprise- I rarely pick up a teenage fiction book (Despite actually being a teenager) normally because the storyline and characters are poorly written, and the ethics and morals put forward are so seemingly fed out of a tin of ‘Moral and Ethics for Teens’ it’s unbelievable. The first page of Eoin Colfer’s ‘The Wish List’ sets the tone for the rest of the story- suspense and character is conveyed and then something dramatic happens; generally relating to the character’s personalities that so effectively persuade the story to adhere to their eccentric disposition, something irritatingly overlooked in many works of fiction. The characters are believable and likeable; and the story is written to not only reinforce this; but aid it.
The story itself tells the rather idiosyncratic and aberrant tale of Meg and Belch. The two characters begin the story by attempting (unsuccessfully) to burgle an old man: Lowrie McCall (ironically and intelligently portrayed as a stereotypical OAP) this murder ends in the untimely death of both- but this death, rather than being the end is a beginning for both characters. Belch is sent to hell, for being a generally evil person, but Meg is given a second chance- a return to Earth to right her wrongs by supporting the elderly McCall in performing his wish list. This sets the scene for a beautifully written, zany novel which offers a valuable lesson for life (for those of any age) while packing in a story that is full of suspense and excitement. The perspicacity of the old man and the reluctant-to-bond young Meg form exactly that; a bond between to generations so rarely understood. Colfer manages all of this without making anything sound too cheesy or puerile; while spinning what is essentially the perfect tale. A great example of this is the love story between Cicely (a TV star in the style of Alan Titcshmarsh) and Lowrie, when Lowrie asks her if she remembers ‘that night,,,, after the cinema when I didn’t kss you, do you ever wonder’ to which Cicely quite delicately replies ‘Every Day and night Lowrie McCall, every day and night’ suggesting the regrets of a pensioner that (with only half a year to live) can never be rewritten.
A masterpiece for this generation; a book that should be read regardless of age. Pure literary delight.