Madeline Cain: The Adventure Begins by Emily Craven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm comfortably well acquainted with many of the stories set in and around Brisbane here in SE QLD. It's a climate and people and ethos I can relate to being my birth-state. I'm even better acquainted with Rundle Mall's balls, Glenelg's beaches and the quintessence of North Terrace having grown up in Adelaide, which is perhaps why Emily Craven's Madeline Cain Adventures reeled me in in the first place. I was keen to revisit the city of my youth and the breeding ground of a trillion new experiences and life long mind-images; a bit like those of maturing teen, Madeline Cain.
In this introductory episode of her adventures (there are three books in total thus far), this almost 18-year-old and her tight ball of buds share their last few fraught post matriculating months with the world at large as Gen Y is wont to do...on the world wide social web. Madeline is stuck in a lime-light saturated spot between the rocks of 'Just because I'm super savvy with school work, the world expects me to go to Uni and love it' and 'I can't commit to a career choice because I have no idea what really rocks my boat'.
This novel trends well thanks to it's entreating format. Now while I'm a fan of fictitious epistolaries and admit I'm more addicted to social media than my Luddite tendencies profess, I did harbour a smidge of reservation about this. Most of me jumped with enthusiasm; surely this was going to be one fun read, the ultimate serve of social media funk. But a small part of me (that obstinate 19th C bit) thought, hang on, I get bored with inane social-media commentary at the best of times. How the heck was Craven going to maintain my voyeuristic verve for the length of an entire novel?
She did it with style and a gangbusters' attitude to keeping it real, that's how. Unless you live off grid, by yourself, with more than one cat and no inclination to boot up anything other than your wellies, you are more than likely to feel at home with the layout of this tale; told in genuine Facebook style through a series of posts and PMs. Never in my wildest moments would I have become this engaged and involved with a bunch of teenagers' trials and tribulations, not even when I was one. The tone is 200% conversational (of course) but rings so true and clear, it's alarming (pardon the pun).
Craven has delineated sharp, winning characters out of virtual drivel. Her intimate knowledge of Madeline's hometown also creates cutting-edge authenticity although you need not be a crow-eater to appreciate the setting in which Madeline first discovers her new passion and potential career path: photography. Madeline's online intercourse between her school mates, family and friends afar is so heavily spiced with wry witticisms, it made my eyes water - with laughter.
Madeline Cain makes the whole internet doctrine somehow more acceptable (for me) and a darn sight funnier. The only trouble with re-living my youth adventures through Maddie is that I want to see how she ends up...must-get-next-book, kind of want. A highly appealing, easy to scroll through, chuckle-worthy read for media savvy tweens, teens, NAs and ex-Adelaidians like me.
In short - I like LIKE it enough to SHARE. :-)
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