Lightning Strike

Tanya Landman (OUP)

Lightning Strike

Review by Michael
In the city of London, many of the citizens were forced to work in brutal environments just to survive. Should people have accepted the way things were? Thousands of innocent people (especially young girls) suffering the consequences of rich men controlling the world? Fighting just for a place to live? This is the life of Eliza, who has always suffered the same horrid experience as any other young girl in the 1880s. However, Eliza is not like the rest; she will fight for justice and won’t let people take control of her. But will she succeed in her quest for equality?

Some of the best qualities of the book come from the characters; every single character had a part to play and have a meaning towards the book. For example, Mr Fettler, the foreman of the match factory – where Eliza works – is harsh, brutal and is a perfect example of a rich, powerful man taking advantage of poor, innocent girls. Another example is Nell, Eliza’s sister, who has truly experienced the horror of being under control of a rich male; she has been affected by the phosphorus in the factory that had caused all her hair to fall out and her teeth to become crooked and mutated – so much that Mr Fettler demanded all of her teeth must be pulled out to stop the suspicion of poor health in the factory.

One other great quality of the book is how much education is in this story. When you listen to Eliza’s tale you will learn so much about the 1800s in London and how unfair things were. Even though she did not have any education she is giving you plenty in return.

A final great quality about this book is the story line. When you read Lightning Strike, you don't get bored of any part of the book; the action is always present and will always keep you hooked. This makes the plot exciting with a constant emotional yet serious narrative which will definitely enrich your reading experience.

When you read this book you will come across a few high level words that some people will not understand. However, this book has a built-in glossary in the back that will explain any unknown words to the reader.

I really struggled to find a negative aspect about this book. However there is one thing that I feel that the author could've added, which is a more supportive male character. Throughout the whole book there is no supporting male character who is on the girl's side and is helping for equality. Instead they are all negative towards girls or don't really understand what they are complaining about.

Overall I found this book to be a very inspiring story which I would definitely recommend to others since so many people suffered a very similar experience that changed many people’s lives. People who love history and making a difference will find this book incredible because it is all about how people should stand up for what they believe in and how everyone deserves equal rights. So overall I would rate this book a 9/10; it has so many great qualities but I just think they should have a supporting male character. I would recommend this book mainly to female students who want to make the world a better place to live.

Review by Michelle 
I love this book. I managed to finish it in less than a week. It’s very educational, emotional and eye-opening. The way Landman has described and set out characters made me build up hatred towards some and heart-felt by others. It shows poverty in the 19th century and how real families had to cope. I believe Tanya Landman is a great writer for children these days and deserves a lot more recognition. This book is about women’s rights which is an important event in history and the way it has contributed to our present possibilities, rights and allowances. The way it’s been written has really allowed children be educated on this in an easily understanding way. The plot was exciting and suspenseful, the chapters are short which makes it easier to read. This book tells us how Eliza fought for her and other’s injustice and gives the reader hope and a sign not to give up if they are in a similar situation of poverty. Eliza is my favourite character in the book because even though she’s going through her own troubles she has a strong personality and manages to stand up for herself and take care of her siblings. I highly recommend this book. 

Review by Olivia
Overall, I found ‘Lightning Strike’ to be an informative book that was able to present serious topics such as inequality, the effects of poverty, and sexism through the perspective of a child who must deal with such issues instead of from the perspective of an adult. I liked this element – it makes it easier for someone of a younger age to read the book and sympathize with Eliza. There were a few moments that I really liked in this book, for example the scene were Eliza and Nell bump into the wealthy man who treats them awfully, I like this scene as it encapsulated the class divide between people of different classes and gave the reader a first-hand look at experiences the characters would have to go through throughout their lives. However, my favorite moment was when Eliza finally stood up for herself and the other girls, it signified a turning point in the story where Eliza turned from complacent to empowered. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to have different perspectives or to have more character development with characters other than Eliza and Nell as I think this would have developed the surroundings  more.

Moreover, there are more minor things that I also liked such as the context pages at the back of the book where it talks about real life events and gives a summary of the characters as it was immensely helpful and the front cover. The front cover was what made me choose ‘Lightning Strike’ in the first place as it is bright and exciting yet also gives you a teaser of what the story will be about. 

Review by Sol
4 stars. Lightning Strike was a great book, with an engaging plot, it really shows off Tanya Landman's style of writing, which is a beautiful way of telling a story. The description of the factories showed what it would be like to work in a Victorian matchstick factory. You feel attached to the characters and feel empathy for them because nobody should have had to work in such extreme conditions. This was a great book, and I learned a lot about the strike of 1888. Thanks for such a great book. 

Review by Jessica
What I saw throughout chapters was quite unsettling as they do have some detailed descriptions of the disease, Phossy jaw and many other things like that scene where Nell got all her teeth pulled out. It was good to describe how health conditions were in the past and what people experienced back then, but it’s too graphic.

What I like about this book: I love the use of words in descriptions, It describes more and sounds better – the way the author described the characters, you could almost visualise them.

In parts of the book, every character acts differently and has many personalities. They do fit the characters though. For example, in TV shows, comics, books etc company/building managers would have different types of personalities but Mr. Fettler is strict to females mainly. In the olden days, men would be on a higher level than women since they thought men were stronger and women were weaker so they could only clean and cook. Mr Fettler thought he could rule over his workers as he was a man.

Favourite Part – When Eliza talks back to Mr.Fetter to defend Nell from getting her teeth ripped out because Nobody was able to speak back to Mr. Fetter, he would sack them. But Eliza risked getting sacked for someone else. This shows bravery and kindness. 

Review by Lucy
The story 'Lighting strike' is set in 1888, Victorian England, a period of time when the homeless were placed in workhouses and children were put to work, both places being full of disease. 

One of my favourite characters, and the one who seems the most interesting to me, is Nell, who is the sister of Eliza, the main character. She is so interesting to me because of who she is in the story. Apart from being Eliza's sister, she was also the second person to stand up to Mr. Fettler. 

I especially enjoyed Nell's character development. She went from being a shy child with the responsibility of a match carrier at a young age, a toothless and balding terrified child who only understood authority, to finally being Eliza's proud sister and the intelligent deputy of the 'Union of woman matchmakers.' 

Something even more intriguing to me is the fact that Nell only went through this character development because she suffered. She was a naturally shy girl and was launched into the match making industry quickly but, no matter what happened, she only learned to respect authority and nothing else when she started balding and when Mr. Fettler demanded that her teeth were removed. 

Even after that, she only learnt to use her intelligence to help the riot when her sister was put in danger. Even through all her suffering, the last little push she needed was the risk of her sister losing her job. 

With Nell's story alone, I know that the Victorian era was a cruel and severe period of time. I already knew about the crimes which were deemed 'moral' back then but this book made me realize quite how intense it was. 

The plot to 'Lighting strike' is overall exciting and emotional. I quickly grew attached to the characters, even if it is simply a short novel. There are no loose ends in the story and everything seems to match up. 

One of my favourite scenes are the very last two pages. Eliza is finally admitting to herself that God is real after being an atheist throughout the entire book. She even has a conversation with them, thanking them for the miracles that she believes they performed. I don't understand why, but this last scene gave me a sense of satisfaction. 

One character that I absolutely despise, is Mr. Fettler. Even if it is cliché for me to hate a man which uses his power to overwork children and take their hard earned money from their pockets, that doesn't stop me from hating him, especially after his interactions with Nell, ending with the girl losing all of her teeth.

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