City of the Beasts

by Isabel Allende

Hardcover, 2002

Call number




Rayo (2002), 416 pages


When fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold accompanies his individualistic grandmother on an expedition to find a humanoid Beast in the Amazon, he experiences ancient wonders and a supernatural world as he tries to avert disaster for the Indians.

User reviews

LibraryThing member JuliaEllen
I believe this was of of the first, if not the first of Isabel Allende's children's novels. It's absolutely fantastic and mystical. A GREAT adventure.
LibraryThing member IsaacW
This is the first book by Isabel Allende for young adults and it's very good! It was a bit hard to get in to but once you did you were right there in the Amazon with them-lost. Alexander Cold goes on a trip with his grandmother and International Geographic to the Amazon in search of the beast. There Alexander meets Nadia who accompanies him on his journey. They soon discover something that will be unforgettable to them and the reader.
This is a great, great book and it is also the start of a series so there's more to come once you've finished!
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LibraryThing member thioviolight
This novel exceeded my expectations! I thoroughly enjoyed this exciting adventure, and found the setting and all the details very fascinating. A wonderful book to get lost in!
LibraryThing member wiremonkey
Allende's first y/a novel in the Alexander Cold trilogy, The City of Beasts is an exciting adventure story that also packs a political and spiritual punch. Through her main character Alexander Cold, the Amazon jungle and its inhabitants are able to demonstrate the wisdom still left to teach those of us who purport to be civilised. My only quibble concerns Alex himself. He goes from being a somewhat pampered, skeptical teenage boy dealing with the harsh reality of his mother's cancer, to a spiritually enlightened young man who has recognised his spirit animal and who is oddly receptive to the visions offered up by the jungle. The change was a little brusque in my opinion and not sufficiently explained by the plot. Otherwise, I would categorise this book as a page turner with substance and not hesitate to recommend it.… (more)
LibraryThing member Joycepa
Normally I don’t read Young Adult fiction because usually the level of sophistication—justifiably so—is lower than I like to read. Not that I’m always happy with adult fiction in that regard, for that matter! However, I do recognize the differences in target audiences.

But I couldn’t’ resist this one. Isabel Allende is one of my favorite authors; I have almost all of her books in translation and one in Spanish. Her work is superb. And this story is set in the Amazon basin, a region I’ve visited a number of times and love. Allende dedicated the book to "Alejandro, Andrea, and Nicole, who asked me for this story". These, as it turns out, are the names of Alexander, one of the protagonists, and his two younger sisters. Clearly Allende meant the book as a story for young people to enjoy. I decided to buy it.

The story’s main protagonists are two teenagers, an American boy, Alexander, and Nadia, a Brasilian girl. The heart of the action actually takes place in Venezuela, off the upper Orinoco River. The plot centers around the efforts of a party sponsored by the magazine International Geographic, which includes Alexander’s grandmother who is a free lance writer of some renown, an eccentric anthropologist who is one of those all too common types who makes up theories to make him famous and then goes searching for the “facts” to back him up, a Brasilian female doctor, various army people, and a shadowy Brasilian entrepeneur who has made fortunes off of stealing lands (legally) from indigenous Amazon tribes. They are all on the search for The Beast, a legendary gigantic two legged creature that resembles the Yeti in many ways. Interestingly enough, in real life there have been reports on the river—but east of the area in which Allende has set her story—of a Yeti-like creature. It’s quite possibly what Allende based her story on.

Naturally there is an encounter with a heretofore-unknown tribe of indigenous people, skullduggery, kidnapping, adventures to the heart of the jungle—all with generous doses of humor (I can believe that Allende is well-acquainted with teenagers) and South American magical realisism to boot. What I particularly appreciated about the book was the Allende provided large amounts of information about deforestation of the Amazon and the illegal activities that go on there without either being preachy or intrusive. It’s a great way of teaching.

I enjoyed the book—it was fun. It’s the first of a trilogy involving Alexander, his grandmother, and Nadia; the sequel takes place in the Himilayas.
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LibraryThing member mattlhm
City of the Beasts, by Isabel Allende, follows Alexander, a disgruntled 15-year-old tagging along on a trek up the Amazon River. He befriends a local girl who can talk to the indigenous Indians along the way. This skill allows them both to relunctantly enter into a supernatural otherworld where the decisions they make will figure prominently into the preservation of life for the Indians who will come to depend on them. Allende shows that she can masterfully spin a yarn, drawing the reader in with plainspoken plotting that moves the action stirringly along without excess characterization. Trouble occurs though when she takes her central characters into a fantasyland world where they will inherit the powers needed to save an Indian tribe central to the storyline. Descriptions here tend to be labored, and one can almost imagine Allende working overtime to astound the reader with overblown details that, unfortunately, aren't in line with the rest of the adept storytelling taking place back in the real world. This story addresses the plight of threatened Indian tribes living along the Amazon and can be used in the classroom to help highlight both ecological and sociological concerns now affecting its rainforests.… (more)
LibraryThing member unlikelyaristotle
At first I was wary of this book, when I realized there would be odd non-human characters walking around in the amazon - I'm not a great fan of fantasy - but this turned out to be a great read. The characters - even the supernatural ones - were fun to read about, but I would limit the description of this book to just that: fun. Still definitely worth a read!… (more)
LibraryThing member mjiko
I was given this book by someone who hadn't realised that it's a children's book, as for some reason (in the UK at least) it's been marketed solely as an adult book. I'm really not sure why this is, as although it's a great adventure story for 12 to 14 yr olds there's not really anything deeper to hold the interest of an adult.… (more)
LibraryThing member r_cuningham
Excellent young adult fiction that also captures the attention of adults.
LibraryThing member Gnork
it´s a really good book.You cant stop reading it. it´s written in a way that traps you.
LibraryThing member sarah_rubyred
The Indiana Jones movie had similarities to this, though I think this wins hands down. I love teen books!
LibraryThing member seekingflight
Alex’s mother has cancer, and he is sent off to his grandmother in New York while she undergoes chemotherapy. His grandmother makes little or no allowance for his youth, and thinks nothing of having him accompany her on a trip to the Amazon, in search of the legendary ‘Beast’. (I suppose I'm not the only one who thought 'Heart of Darkness' at this point, and it perhaps wasn't an entirely inappropriate comparison.)

I liked the way in which the book was grounded with such a realistic beginning, and I loved the enticing descriptions of the Amazon, its danger and its beauty. I enjoyed the coming of age elements of the story, where Alex and his friend Nadia both meet challenges, overcome their fears, and (of course!) learn things on their journey.

But the fantasy elements of the story didn't really appeal to me (and seemed a bit weak, in comparison to some of these other parts of the book), and I felt a little disappointed overall.
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LibraryThing member docliz
not as good as her other books but an enjoyable read. This series is meant for her younger readers
LibraryThing member iftyzaidi
I haven't read any Isabel Allende before, so this, the first in a trilogy of adventure novels for YA readers may not exactly be representative of her work, but I was in the mood for a light read. Incidentally, I don't read much YA books either. I noticed many of the reviews tend to compare this, either favourably or unfavourably to Harry Potter. Not having read any of the Harry Potter books, I can't really comment on that either. What I can say is that this is an entertaining adventure story, packed with exotic locations and an exciting quest, which is engaging without really managing to be enthralling.

The story follows young Alexander Cold, a 15 year old American boy whose mother has unfortunately contracted cancer. While his father looks after her, Alexander is sent to live with his grandmother, a tough, whiskey-swilling journalist for 'International Geographic' who wouldn't win any prizes for wise parenting. She drags Alexander off to a trip deep into the Amazon searching for a mythical Beast (sort of a Bigfoot like creature). This is an adventure story in the mould of Indiana Jones (though much more culturally sensitive, thank goodness). Probably the best parts of the book are when the expedition is making its way up the Amazon river where Allende's descriptions of the flora and fauna in all their wild abundance and variety are particularly effective.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
I found City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende an absorbing read. Telling the story of Alexander, who is sent off to accompany his grandmother on an expedition to the Amazon. His family is in crisis, with his mother very ill with cancer. Alex and his sisters are to be farmed out to the grandparents. Alex thinks he has drawn the short straw by being sent to his decidedly eccentric grandmother, Kate.

This coming-of-age tale was written beautifully, the South American jungle comes to life as do the inhabitants of the jungle. As the expedition travels deeper and deeper into the rainforest, civilization seems so very far away, and Alex comes into full contact with his spirituality. We are taken into the realms of a fantasy world as Alex and his friend Nadia are taken captive by the People of the Mist and eventually these two are taken to the City of the Beasts to meet the legendary creatures. They are given the tools they will need to ensure that the People of the Mist don’t come under the control of greedy entrepreneurs in the future.

Isabel Allende manages to include both the topics of genocide and the exploitation of the Amazon Basin in her story, but first and foremost, she stays true to her younger audience and tells a wonderful fantasy adventure story about a boy coming to terms with his life and taking those first steps towards becoming a man.
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LibraryThing member jennyolsson
Love the mix of mythology, fairytale, history, different cultures and adventure. The book is for teenagers, but I think many good fantasy books are made for teenagers and they are still very readable.
LibraryThing member alanpan
a ok book with some susppense that doesn't bore people to sleep
LibraryThing member amaraduende
I have really liked Allende in the past, but this book seems monumentally unspired in style. Everything is narrated, leaving nothing to the imagination. We are told, unimaginatively, what happens and what is said and what is thought and what happens next. Bleh.

Good premise... young man's mom is sick and has to undergo some hefty treatment, so young man goes to live with Gramma. Gramma just so happens to be an ascerbic, snarky (but warm-hearted (we are told, heavy-handedly)) adventurer about to embark on a trip to remotest jungle in search of a Bigfoot-like creatured rumored to be stomping around killing people.

Sadly, I just didn't care.
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LibraryThing member ginger.hewitt
I really enjoyed this book. This is an adventure of magical realism into the depths of the rain forest. Love Allende!!
LibraryThing member christinejoseph
novel for young readers — picked up By mistake — love the author's work + was in large print!

Fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold is about to join his fearless grandmother on the trip of a lifetime. An International Geographic expedition is headed to the dangerous, remote wilds of South America, on a mission to document the legendary Yeti of the Amazon known as the Beast.… (more)
LibraryThing member heidijane
A good solid read.
LibraryThing member ElizabethCromb
Story set in the remote regions of the Amazon forests, Part reality part fantasy. Raising the issues of the treatment of the indigenous people, the greed and avaricious hunt for minerals and resources and what that led to for people, flora and fauna in the way of progress.
LibraryThing member elenaj
The dialogue is incredibly stilted and unrealistic. I am inclined to blame this on the translation, but regardless of where the fault is, it made the book unreadable for me. I only got about 15 pages in before I gave up on it.
LibraryThing member ParneetKaire
"City of the Beasts," is a very fascinating book filled with lots of adventures in here. Its basically about this group visiting the Amazon, apparently like a mission they are on, to find out about "beasts" or "uncontacted tribe" living in the Amazon. Two people, "Alexander and Nadia," are the main characters that they go through an adventure with lots of pros and conflicts. These friends get along fast as they get lost in this very unknown place in the Amazon and that's how they get into a bit of dilemma, but they overcome it. I recommend you this such great adventurous book, that may be unforgetabble to you (as if you were part of this story).… (more)




006050918X / 9780060509187
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