Vasco, Leader of the Tribe
Delacorte, 2007 (2007)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
n Vasco's neighbourhood - of wharves, docked freighters, gangways, and tugboat moorings - '
as the sun rose on the horizon, glimmers of dawn began to redden the harbor water
', and soon the daily bustle of human activity begins. Here, there is always plenty of scrap food for his family and friends. But as Vasco scurries to the warehouse, a '
mysterious and frightening silence
' lingers, along with a strong unfamiliar odor, and the nest is empty. Vasco finds Memona, the rat tribe's eldest, who with her last breath warns him, '
They are all dead ... You're the last one ... be cautious of men. Of the steam.
ven in his grief, Vasco rescues a female rat being chased by a man with a shovel. Nil is from another tribe who dwell in the town sewers. Hearing sharp squeals of young rats, Vasco finds three survivors of his tribe - Hog, Coben, and Tiel. Nil invites Vasco and his new charges to the safety of her tribe's nest, where Vasco asks refuge of its leader Akar. In return, Vasco must bring food nightly to the sewer nest, placing it before the dominant Akar and his mate. It is only a matter of time before Vasco takes a stand against the treacherous Akar. He forms his own tribe, joined by members of Akar's tribe including Nil. Returning to the wharves, Vasco is reunited with loner Regus, who tells of a human plan to exterminate all the city rats.
asco and his followers board a freighter, seeking a new life. The rats are trapped in a '
double-locked hold - a dead end ... coffin
'. Vasco finds an escape from their coffin quarters, through the openings of a huge fan. As Vasco and Regus search for food in the freighter's kitchen, they are accosted by another tribe. A huge black rat warns Vasco, '
I am Olmo, the chief of the rats on this ship. Whatever is on board is ours.
' Vasco tells him, '
We're not trying to conquer your territory ... We'll stay on board the ship just as long as the voyage lasts. Then we'll disappear.
' When rats from both tribes are found torn to pieces, war is proclaimed. Then Regus determines that '
something strange is going on
' ... and more hazardous adventures lie ahead for Vasco and his tribe.
rom beginning to end, Anne-Laure Bondoux maintains suspense and constant, riveting action with a high-spirited plot and intriguing characters, struggling against immense odds. This tale of a courageous hero whose heart is in the right place is an absorbing story of community and camaraderie. Readers will cheer for Vasco's dream to '
establish a tribe with a different way of life - one without confrontation or warfare, one that was in harmony with the rest of the world
'. After all, isn't that what we all yearn for? Anne-Laure Bondoux is also the author of
Life as It Comes
The Killer's Tears
, as well as
The Destiny of Linus Hoppe
and its companion,
The Second Life of Linus Hoppe
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