It was with great anticipation that I opened the pages of Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer as I absolutely loved being transported to the rooftops of Paris and the wilds of Russia in her previous books. Therefore I knew without a doubt that ‘The Explorer’ would allow me to fully immerse myself in the ferociously hot, damp and somewhat dangerous Brazilian jungle, so that I would feel that I had actually travelled there. We meet Fred, Con, Lila and Max flying in a tiny aeroplane above the Amazon river unaware that in a few moments time their plane is going to plummet to the ground. Their chance of survival seems slim but when they’re caught in a canopy and manage to scramble out of the plane they soon realise this was just the start of their problems. With no hope of rescue they are totally lost and all alone, how can they ever find their way out of the jungle so that they can return home.
It’s extremely difficult to put into words just how glorious a book ‘The Explorer’ really is – which presents somewhat a difficulty when you’re a book blogger! Katherine has an outstanding gift for exceptional storytelling that always captivates and enchants the reader. This should feel like a terrifying situation that our characters find themselves in, adrift from the rest of humanity with no sustenance to keep them alive, but it feels more thrilling than despairing. Fred as the eldest of the group feels a need to take charge of the situation although he’s not naturally a brave person. He longs to be an explorer and makes his father proud and is driven by this desire, to try and escape from the jungle and keep everyone alive. Con is naturally hesitant and the lack of love in her life has made her distant and untrusting. Whilst Lila is trapped by this terrible guilt of having to keep her baby brother Max alive at any cost. All of the characters are tested to their limits, forced to do the unimaginable – eating a tarantula is something that stays in my mind – and as they do this they discover these unknown reserves within themselves and it’s that keep them going in the darkest of times.
Nothing can quite prepare you for the journey that Katherine takes you as you become lost in the jungle too. Wonderfully atmospheric, all our your senses are stimulated by this rich evocative writing. You can feel the torrential rain soaking through your skin, hear the unknown calls of animals in the jungle and taste the acrid smell of smoke burning through the trees. All around you, you soon discover a new world as you see the most amazing sights from pods of pinkish-grey dolphins to ingenious monkeys who have the most creative techniques to sourcing honey. Yet at the heart of this story it is the emerging friendship between these four children which I found the most fascinating, Katherine takes them on a physical and emotional journey which is wonderfully compelling. And without wishing to spoil anything the epilogue is just sheer perfection and brought tears to my eyes. An extraordinary adventure which I know will be enjoyed for many years to come, what a stunning read bravo Katherine!
Thank you to Emma and Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this sublime book.