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A Pocketful of Eyes

A Pocketful of Eyes - Lili Wilkinson 3.5 starsTaking place in a Melbourne museum with monetary woes, A Pocketful of Eyes is a twisty mystery that involves animal trivia, taxidermy, a tiger and a cute boy called Toby. (And that’s enough cheesy alliteration from me). Bee is working a summer job in the department of taxidermy at the Museum of Natural History, trying to avoid thinking about the fact that her boyfriend may prefer her best friend, and ignore her handsome new colleague, when the body of her mentor and supervisor and turns up in the one of the museum exhibits. Equipped with a childhood spent reading Sherlock Holmes, Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew novels, a whip-smart intellect and a willing sidekick, Bee puts her powers of deduction to work, investigating the mysterious circumstances of the apparent suicide. To put it simply, this book is fun. Really fun. Wilkinson weaves a together a detective story with plenty of turns and red herrings, bizarre factoids galore and a dash of swoon.Bee is refreshing character – she’s smart and tenacious and follows her instincts – but she’s also a teenager who doesn’t quite know how to handle her floundering friendship or the fact that her D&D playing Mum is dating a Celestial Badger. She’s confident in her work and knows how to skin a koala, but she’s not quite sure what to make of Toby and his wealth of knowledge about mating rituals of the animal kingdom. I loved the collision of her focused, analytical side with the uncertainties in her personal life and her feelings for a certain glasses-wearing uni student. And speaking of Toby, I ended up with a bit of a crush on him myself. He’s intelligent, a little cheeky, a walking Wikipedia of random facts with penchant for making out in some very interesting places. He’s humour and hotness in equal measure (and honestly, the hedgehog card and the Adelie penguin story were pretty much my undoing). The relationship between Bee and her Mother was well done. It’s realistic and not perfect and involves two very different personalities - but it’s not angsty or clichéd. The scenes between Bee and her Mother, while often funny, always seemed genuine and true to their situation. In the interests of keeping this review spoiler free, I’ll limit my comments on the plot, other than to say that it was well-crafted and tight. I’ll admit that I went into this booking thinking I’d have the mystery sorted early on in the piece – but I was happily proven wrong and kept on my toes up until the reveal. The big bonus factor for me though – nerd that I am – was all the trivia liberally sprinkled throughout the story. Odd facts about the history and process of taxidermy, scientific theory, literary references, mating habits.. They give the story a quirk factor that I particularly enjoyed. A Pocketful of Eyes is light without being fluffy - it’s not a book that packs huge emotional impact - but it has a lot of heart and was I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. (Also, ten points for the cover: it has quite a pop and it’s also completely relevant. Love!)