August 31, 2014

Hoši od Bobří řeky by Jaroslav Foglar (Review)

Title: Hoši od Bobří řeky (Boys from Beaver River)
Author: Jaroslav Foglar
First published: 1958
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

It's a shame, really, but I've finished only one book for my own Language Freak challenge, and I had been planning on finishing at least four! Well, life happens. This only book is in Czech, and it was far from enjoyable. I finished it only because I had borrowed it from a friend (more than a year ago!) who told me it was his favourite book when he was a boy. I can't see how this book can be somebody's favourite, but at least now I can give it back with clean conscience.

The book is essentially a propaganda of the "soviet pioneer" ideals. For those of you not familiar with the movement, they are somewhat like scouts. So there is this young man who apparently has no job and nothing else to do except to entertain and brainwash boys. He takes them on a short trip to the forest and tells them some weird story about a frontier guy who was very sporty and cool, lived in a forest, was friendly with Indians and then died. And the guys become eager to be more like him, to which end they spend all summer camping in the nature trying to pass this man's tests of their strength, knowledge, good behaviour, courage, etc. The book even has specifications for these tests in the end of each chapter, so that the reader can do them himself.

Brainwashing is very strong in this book, and you know I can't stand it. So I was eye-rolling most of the time. I can't see why the author couldn't be more subtle with introducing his agenda. Moreover, I may be too spoiled by the modern world, but this leader of the group is a weirdo. Why is he doing all this? Who pays him? Where does he get money? How come he settles up a sect, and none of the parents are worried? How can they let their children go off for the whole summer to live with this man? I would soooo not trust him with my child!! Another problem of the book is an utter absence of girls. They are not mentioned ONCE! Not in school, not in the streets, the boys don't even think of them. It's as if no girls exist at all. First, is it even possible or healthy? Second, why can't girls also participate in all the "adventures" and try to become sportier, cleverer, etc.? Discrimination!

In my book:
I know I picked it up only to practice my Czech, but I'd prefer it to me more literature than propaganda.

P.S. I'll probably add a review in Czech here some time soon, but I'll need to first check it with my Czech teacher :)


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