Cover image for City of the beasts
City of the beasts
Allende, Isabel.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Ciudad de las bestias. English
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, 2002.
Physical Description:
406 pages ; 20 cm
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.
Reading Level:
1030 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 7.8 15.0 62925.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.6 20 Quiz: 33152 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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. But there are many secrets hidden in the unexplored wilderness, as Alex and his new friend Nadia soon discover. Drawing on the strength of their spirit guides, both young people are led on a thrilling and unforgettable journey to the ultimate discovery. . . .

Author Notes

Isabel Allende was born in 1942 in Lima, Peru, the daughter of a Chilean diplomat. When her parents separated, young Isabel moved with her mother to Chile, where she spent the rest of her childhood. She married at the age of 19 and had two children, Paula and Nicolas. Her uncle was Salvador Allende, the president of Chile. When he was overthrown in the coup of 1973, she fled Chile, moving to Caracas, Venezuela.

While living in Venezuela, Allende began writing her novels, many of them exploring the close family bonds between women. Her first novel, The House of the Spirits, has been translated into 27 languages, and was later made into a film. She then wrote Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, and The Stories of Eva Luna, all set in Latin America. The Infinite Plan was her first novel to take place in the United States. She explores the issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees in her novel, In The Midst of Winter. In Paula, Allende wrote her memoirs in connection with her daughter's illness and death. She delved into the erotic connections between food and love in Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses.

In addition to writing books, Allende has worked as a TV interviewer, magazine writer, school administrator, and a secretary at a U.N. office in Chile. She received the 1996 Harold Washington Literacy Award. She lives in California. Her title Maya's Notebook made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2013.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 9-12. Acclaimed author Allende's first YA novel, part thrilling survival adventure, part coming-of-age journey, blends magical realism with grim history and contemporary politics in a way that shakes up all the usual definitions of savagery and civilization. Alex, 15, has been wrenched from the safe boundaries of his California home to accompany his journalist grandmother, Kate, on an International Geographic Expedition deep into the heart of the Amazon jungle. They are searching for a legendary beast, a gigantic, possibly humanoid creature that has been glimpsed in the area. The setting is more than background here: it's the heart of the story. The Indian People of the Mist, who have lived in the region since the Stone Age, are now threatened by adventurers and entrepreneurs who want the land and its riches. There's some plot contrivance as Alex and a local girl each go on a vision quest to save the Indians; and some expedition members seem like caricatures--the buffoon anthropologist, the idealistic physician, the hard grandma. But the characters are also funny, angry, and needy, and they surprise even themselves. Caught by the young characters and their wild adventures, readers will race through this for the story, then stop and think about the issues of wildness, survival, and the nature of beasts and humans. Hazel Rochman.

Publisher's Weekly Review

PW called this story of a 15-year-old who is reluctant to accompany his grandmother on a writing assignment in South America "laced with surprises and ironic twists." Once their expedition in search of a legendary nine-foot-tall "Beast" begins, however, his doubts are pushed out of his mind by more immediate concerns. All ages. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-10-In her first novel for younger readers (HarperCollins, 2002), Isabel Allende creates an authentic South American world, this time in the Amazon rain forest, and combines it with mythical realms of the imagination. California teen Alexander Cold embarks with his rather stern and prickly grandmother Kate, a writer, on a trek to locate a legendary Yeti-like Beast of the Amazon. An egotistical anthropologist, two photographers, and a guide with a teenage daughter fill out the official party. They are joined by a rich Amazon adventurer with villainous intentions and a doctor whose job supposedly is to carry protective vaccines to any native population. The story develops jungle and expedition details as well as cultural and economic conflicts with a mysterious People of the Mist very well. But the travels of the young people alone into the territory of the People as well as that of the giant Beasts are full of mysticism and fantastic happenings. Just when one twist of the plot seems to be reaching a resolution, two or three more arise, creating layer upon layer of incredible events. Narrator Blair Brown creates subtle voices and distinguishing accents for all the characters. Her rendering of unfamiliar native words is excellent, and this feature will be helpful to listeners who might come to a frustrated full stop at seeing the words in print. Her convincing reading is a real asset. A short appropriate musical passage plays at the beginning and ending of each side of the tape. The lengthy, complex plot may limit the audiobook's appeal. The story is noteworthy for its portrayal of the region and its problems, but unusual in its reliance on the supernatural and mystical. It will appeal to teens with an interest in the rain forest and a taste for the fantastic.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, Painted Post NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



City of the Beasts Chapter One The Nightmare Alexander Cold awakened at dawn, startled by a nightmare. He had been dreaming that an enormous black bird had crashed against the window with a clatter of shattered glass, flown into the house, and carried off his mother. In the dream, he watched helplessly as the gigantic vulture clasped Lisa Cold's clothing in its yellow claws, flew out the same broken window, and disappeared into a sky heavy with dark clouds. What had awakened him was the noise from the storm: wind lashing the trees, rain on the rooftop, and thunder. He turned on the light with the sensation of being adrift in a boat, and pushed closer to the bulk of the large dog sleeping beside him. He pictured the roaring Pacific Ocean a few blocks from his house, spilling in furious waves against the cliffs. He lay listening to the storm and thinking about the black bird and about his mother, waiting for the pounding in his chest to die down. He was still tangled in the images of his bad dream. Alexander looked at the clock: six-thirty, time to get up. Outside, it was beginning to get light. He decided that this was going to be a terrible day, one of those days when it's best to stay in bed because everything is going to turn out bad. There had been a lot of days like that since his mother got sick; sometimes the air in the house felt heavy, like being at the bottom of the sea. On those days, the only relief was to escape, to run along the beach with Poncho until he was out of breath. But it had been raining and raining for more than a week -- a real deluge -- and on top of that, Poncho had been bitten by a deer and didn't want to move. Alex was convinced that he had the dumbest dog in history, the only eighty-pound Labrador ever bitten by a deer. In the four years of his life, Poncho had been attacked by raccoons, the neighbor's cat, and now a deer -- not counting the times he had been sprayed by the skunks and they'd had to bathe him in tomato juice to get rid of the smell. Alex got out of bed without disturbing Poncho and got dressed, shivering; the heat came on at six, but it hadn't yet warmed his room, the one at the end of the hall. At breakfast Alex was not in the mood to applaud his father's efforts at making pancakes. John Cold was not exactly a good cook; the only thing he knew how to do was pancakes, and they always turned out like rubber-tire tortillas. His children didn't want to hurt his feelings, so they pretended to eat them, but anytime he wasn't looking, they spit them out into the garbage pail. They had tried in vain to train Poncho to eat them: the dog was stupid, but not that stupid. "When's Momma going to get better?" Nicole asked, trying to spear a rubbery pancake with her fork. "Shut up, Nicole!" Alex replied, tired of hearing his younger sister ask the same question several times a week. "Momma's going to die," Andrea added. "Liar! She's not going to die!" shrieked Nicole. "You two are just kids. You don't know what you're talking about!" Alex exclaimed. "Here, girls. Quiet now. Momma is going to get better," John interrupted, without much conviction. Alex was angry with his father, his sisters, Poncho, life in general -- even with his mother for getting sick. He rushed out of the kitchen, ready to leave without breakfast, but he tripped over the dog in the hallway and sprawled flat. "Get out of my way, you stupid dog!" he yelled, and Poncho, delighted, gave him a loud slobbery kiss that left Alex's glasses spattered with saliva. Yes, it was definitely one of those really bad days. Minutes later, his father discovered he had a flat tire on the van, and Alex had to help change it. They lost precious minutes and the three children were late getting to class. In the haste of leaving, Alex forgot his math homework. That did nothing to help his relationship with his teacher, whom Alex considered to be a pathetic little worm whose goal was to make his life miserable. As the last straw, he had also left his flute, and that afternoon he had orchestra practice; he was the soloist and couldn't miss the rehearsal.   The flute was the reason Alex had to leave during lunch to go back to the house. The storm had blown over but the sea was still rough and he couldn't take the short way along the beach road because the waves were crashing over the lip of the cliff and flooding the street. He took the long way, because he had only forty minutes. For the last few weeks, ever since his mother got sick, a woman had come to clean, but that morning she had called to say that because of the storm she wouldn't be there. It didn't matter, she wasn't much help and the house was always dirty anyway. Even from outside, you could see the signs; it was as if the whole place was sad. The air of neglect began with the garden and spread through every room of the house, to the farthest corners. Alex could feel his family coming apart. His sister Andrea, who had always been different from the other girls, was now more Andrea than ever; she was always dressing in costumes, and she wandered lost for hours in her fantasy world, where she imagined witches lurking in the mirrors and aliens swimming in her soup. She was too old for that. At twelve, Alex thought, she should be interested in boys, or piercing her ears. As for Nicole, the youngest in the family, she was collecting a zoo full of animals ... City of the Beasts . Copyright © by Isabel Allende. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.