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Title: Midnight for Charlie Bone

Writer: Jenny Nimmo

Publisher:Ufuk Publishing House (2010)

Pages: 409 p

Bought at: Pesta Buku Jakarta 2011 (IDR 69,900, disc 40%)

It’s hard not to compare any fantasy book (especially the ones about a boy with special gift who attends a special school) – with Harry Potter books. But it’s definitely not fair, since there will never be a book that could match half of Potter’s achievement, I guess including any book by JK Rowling herself.

Charlie Bone is a ten year old boy who comes from a special family. His grandmother’s family (from his father’s side), the Yewbeams, is famous for their special “gifts”. Charlie always thought that he would be excluded from this family heritage, until one day he can hear people in a photograph talking. And that was the beginning of his tortured days as the “gifted”.

Charlie is forced to attend the school for special kids, Bloor’s Academy. His mom and grandma (from mother’s side) can’t do anything about it, since they were practically living with Yewbeams money after Charlie’s father died (or gone missing, to be precised). In Bloor’s Academy, Charlie found many interesting and mysterious things, including a girl who had been kidnapped since she was a baby, and now attends the school. Charlie suspected the principal and his scary son, Manfred, involved in this case. With the help of his two friends, Fidelio and Benjamin, Charlie tried to solve the mystery, and find the truth about his family.Menawhile, Charlie also met other special kids in the school: Billy, an albino boy who can talk with the animals, Gabriel, who can feel people’s emotion by touching their things, and even Manfred, who can hypnotize people.

Charlie Bone is actually a fun read, although the fantasy world created by Jenny Nimmo is not that vivid, but I can still feel the gloomy Bloor’s Academy, contrast with the charming town where Charlie lives. But the plot itself is too bland, I guess it is more suitable for middle graders. There is no real mystery or twisted ending whatsoever, since some of the chapters told from non-Charlie’s point of view, including the villains, so don’t hope for the element of surprise here. Nimmo just omitted some difficult answers and stick with the simple plot.

It’s a mix between Harry Potter with some X Men elements, there’s nothing original about Charlie Bone. But it’s still quite entertaining, perfect if you are looking for something light and fun. And probably, Charlie will develop more in the next books (the series consisted of eight books). The second book, Charlie Bone and The Time Twister, has already been published by Ufuk.

There were rumors spread out about Charlie Bone the movie, but the project had been canceled on and off since 2003, so there’s nothing definite yet. But I found a great list of the dream cast for the movie here, just in case it will happen someday, and I agree with most of it =)