The Raven’s Children

By Yulia Yakovleva

The Ravens ChildrenFreya’s review
This book gave a really good sense of time (in the Soviet Union) and really set the scene and scenery. I liked how it was told in a 7-year-old’s eyes. The plot was exciting but got really confusing so, as I was reading it, I didn’t really know what was going on. The plot did end up making sense but was confusing for a period of the book.

You did learn a lot about the time period and how everyone followed the rules and learnt how everyone was against pies. This book was quite slow-paced but enjoyable to read. I would recommend this if you would like to learn about Russia and the Soviet Union but for older audiences (10+) as it was hard to understand.

Star rating ★★★

Emily’s review
This book was very interesting as I learnt about how Russia used to live in the Victorian times. My favourite character is Shura as he is risky and a daredevil. I like his personality as it inspires me. I didn’t really like Mama as she was horrible and didn’t accept accidents. I learnt they transported bad people on cold, dirty, locked up trains. It was a nice page-turner as I always wanted to find out what was going to happen next. It has made me stop and think about how Russia used to live. The part that stood out the most for me was the beginning when the trains rolled past. This stood out as it was a shock to imagine how people treated others. I would recommend this book to mature people as you have to have a good understanding for this type of information.

Shifa’s review
I did not find any of the characters to be that interesting and feel that it was directed to a younger age group.

The plot was very obvious from the start and the characters were too naïve to realise. It made the majority of the book rather boring and I did not enjoy it.

It was set in Russia during World War Two and involved the Russian secret agency and someone called the “Black Raven” who seemed to be someone of brutal military importance.

Sam’s review
The Raven’s Children was a good book that made me think quite a lot. It was quite accurate but at one point, Shura, the main character talked to some animals. This did make me think, however as I did not know whether he was fantasizing as a child or making it up because he was worried. At another point, he was invisible to nearly everyone except people who were also invisible. The ending of the book was the only part I didn’t like as there was no explanation; all that happened was him, his sister and his brother just walked away.

I really liked the book, and it has made me really want to learn more about the USSR and Soviet Russia.

Malachi’s review
The Raven’s Children by Yulia Yakovleva tells Shura’s story about him trying to reunite with his brother and parents after the “Black Ravens” have kidnapped them. The story is set in Soviet Russia in the 1930s when thousands of innocent people were arrested and thrown into labour camps in Siberia. Shura bravely hands himself over to the “Black Ravens” by flagging down a secret police car. A true story about a young man’s brave struggle to save his family. I would highly recommend this book.

Pei-Xi’s review
The Raven’s Children by Yulia Yakovleva is interesting. The story takes place in Russia in the 1930s. It is about a brave young man who is trying to rescue his family who have been taken by the Black Ravens. Although fiction, this story is taken from terrible true events where innocent people were dragged from their homes and sent to Siberian labour camps. I like the language technique the writer uses which makes the story sound even more exciting.

Naina’s review
The Raven’s Children by Yulia Yakovleva is set in Soviet Russia. We follow the story of a young boy called Shura, who is trying to find his parents and brother after they were taken by the mysterious “Black Raven”. This book talks about government espionage and is full of surreal metaphors, such as ears growing out of walls. As the book progresses, we are sent further into this bizarre version of Shura’s town where birds can talk and citizens seem to disappear.

Shura is a very endearing protagonist, and his determination is great. The plotline is interesting to follow, full of twists and turns. Altogether, the book is a very fun read, albeit rather quick.

Rated 7/10.

William’s review
My favourite character in the book was Shura because he is having to struggle within a totalitarian dictatorship, not knowing who he can trust as the state would work against him whenever he could. I didn’t really like the character of Tanya because at the start, she makes fun of Shura and teases him, making her unpleasant to be around for the main character.

I learnt a lot from the book about life within the Soviet Union as it shows how those within wanted to have fun and just enjoy and be normal, while the state is busy making their life harder and allows secret kidnapping throughout the country.

I found the plot great because it initially focuses on the more everyday lives before turning into them fighting Stalin’s tyranny set out to remove political prisoners, not small children. They turn into outcasts, where they are now treated the same as the enemies of the state.

I think what most stands out about the book is that it is from the perspective of a child within the Soviet Union, where there is no safety. While a child should be protected by everyone in the country, Shura is kept in danger throughout, having the whole state working against them.

I would definitely recommend this book to other pupils as it provides a different perspective on life, how some children, born in a completely different part of the world can have such a broken life where nothing relates to them, due to the differing societies that would make this more unique to read.

Mia G’s review
The main character’s parents and little brother get taken away to a gulag and he is confused by this and goes searching for them. Not only is this a terrible and scary situation from the viewpoint of an eight-year-old, but there is also a lightness to his adventures and perceptions, which makes the book easier to read. I previously never knew about gulags, so the book gave a good idea of what these were without being too graphic. Overall, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to others.

Lucy’s review
I enjoyed reading this book and I found Shura, the main character, interesting because he was young and did not understand what was going on but you saw him understanding what was really happening throughout the book. I learnt about Russian history from the book and how it was very hard and harsh back then. I found the history of Russia interesting because I didn’t know anything about Russian history before I read this book. I found that the plot was exciting but from the perspective of a young child, it made the book more light-hearted and cheerful. I found the book was sometimes a bit confusing and unclear but I would still recommend it to other pupils.

Ernest’s review
The book The Raven’s Children is very interesting and it is quite historical in being able to portray Soviet Russia in the year 1938, but also add mystical elements such as the “Black Raven”. It is a good read and gives facts about Soviet spies in Russia and the “rehabilitation” camps. It made me want to find out more.

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