- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: The Red Telephone (26th February 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0955791081
- ISBN-13: 978-0955791086
- Source: review copy from the publisher
- My rating: 4/5
Kaleem Malkendy is different – and, on Terrestra, different is no way to be.
Everything about Kaleem marks him out from the rest: the blond hair and dark skin, the humble cave where he lives and the fact that he doesn’t know his father. He’s used to unwelcome attention, but even so, he’d feel better if some strange old man didn’t keep following him around.
Then the man introduces himself and begins to explain the Babel Prophecy – and everything in Kaleem’s life changes forever.
It's got to be by some unfathomable plan of the Universe that this book has found its way to me...okay, I'll cut the drama right away, but I'm still stricken with how much this book resonated with me, more so when I take into account it's interesting path to my shelf. Here's the story. I was offered to review this book in late March/ early April. Accepted, waited for a long couple of weeks to receive it, then I learned it was the Croatian postal service that messed something up and sent it a long way around before it finally appeared on my door...Anyway, by then it was already the time of finals, little time to read, etc. and I read very little of it very slowly. Then I moved out, the book somehow ended up in a box of used textbooks, went straight up to the attic. I found it by chance two weeks ago and resumed reading where I put a break months ago. And I loved it.
The plot of The Prophecy builds upon the Babel story and puts a new twist on it; thousand years from now, there is a Peace Child who will be chosen to reverse what happened in Babel; not only have people lost the ability to understand each other by means of language, but also the cultural and mental boundaries have grown so much that people of a planet (Terrestra) chose to cut all relationships with other planets and live isolated from other colonies. Then one day Kaleem is given the final prove that he is different, as he had felt to be all his life. He needs to learn an extensive number of languages, existent and non-existent, and study the way of life on other planets.
And this is why I loved it so much.
The idea embodied in the character of Kaleem. Kaleem is the IDEAL TRANSLATOR. Gill James, herself concerned with language studies, has found an amazing way to present the core of being a translator-not just transcoding words and sentence structures, but crossing cultural boundaries and adopting the target language and culture as your own in order to successfully transmit the message.
At this point, I was yelling: "YES! YES! That's what I've been trying to explain to people who tell me that everyone in possession of a dictionary can be a translator!" Once Kaleem comes to Zandra, he realizes that sometimes it's not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it, and that it can be a life-time process of learning.
On the cons side, The Prophecy is not your flashy, action packed, swooning YA novel. Especially the first half, I found it quite slow, without much real action. Mostly Kaleem is preparing, studying, a disease/influenza is gradually spreading among young people...the second half speeds up, some concrete stuff happens.
I wasn't very happy with the pacing, nor the consistency of the novel. I felt like there were some loose ends, and as for the sci-fi aspect, left something to be missed. But as far as I'm concerned, for the idea and satisfying ending that rather makes you forget previously mentioned problems, it's one of the most-memorable reads on my list.