1 out of 4 stars
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La Patagonia es para valientes by Diana Hirsch is a children's book written in Spanish. It follows the story of Mariela, a young girl who travels to a summer camp in Bariloche, Argentina. After she learns that her father dates one of her teachers, she decides to face this new adventure as an opportunity to get away from her home while having a good time with her friend Florencia.
In the camp, Mariela meets new people and comes across the stunning landscapes of Patagonia, although she finds it hard to get used to life amid nature. To make matters worse, she begins experiencing a series of extraordinary visions that warn her of a coming danger. After an incident in which her group gets lost amid a boat trip, she begins questioning her experiences and the existence of supernatural elements in her world.
The prose of the book is simple, crude, and barely developed. Written in the first person, the text feels as if the protagonist's thread of thoughts has been directly transcribed to its pages without any additional work in its use of poetic language. While this style may be bearable for some readers, the writing could have used some further polishing work considering the text was intended for children readers.
From this last point comes one of the main problems of the book: the target audience. Although it does not contain violent scenes or mature themes, the characters, their language, and the way of approaching the relationships between them make the book more suitable for young adult readers.
The characters may be the only possible redemption point for the book. Even if the protagonist can be annoying at times, her young age and the circumstances she faces throughout the text help empathizing with her. It is also easy to relate to Mariela's group of friends, although the reader may come to think the writer has based both the characters and the plot partly on her personal experiences.
Nevertheless, out of any subjective analysis, the book's calamitous editing work cannot be overlooked. There are missing periods, absent double quotations, segments written in the present tense, and many commas that feel out of place. Worse, texts in Spanish rarely use double quotation marks in dialogues like those written in English. Instead, they employ hyphens prior to those segments.
Taking into account all these problems, reading the text turned out to be a difficult experience for the reviewer. The plot takes its time to become interesting, the fantastic elements seem implausible, and the closure feels forced. Unfortunately, I do not see any other option than to give it 1 out of 4 stars. It can only be of interest for those who seek to know something about Argentine idiosyncrasy.
La Patagonia es para valientes
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