The Stone Chameleon
Young Africa series. Cape Town, South Africa: Maskew Miller Longman, 2004. 92 p. ISBN 0-636-06255-4. Ages 8-10.
Publisher: Maskew Miller Longman (MML)
This science fiction novel is set in a futuristic South Africa where the “in” thing is to have a body genetically altered to be like an African animal. On the surface, the story is exciting and action-packed; but below the surface, a shy fifteen-year-old boy at a new school in a new place faces gangs of bullies, as so often happens in school stories. The concept of gangs, however, is far more sinister and pervasive in the South African context because it includes the world of drugs and dealers.
The novel is written in a slick, punchy teenage style that varies from everyday chat to strong, eerie action. This adventure story is more folk-style magic than futuristic invention, more fear of brute force than introspection. South Africa has not produced much science fiction, hence The Stone Chameleon is an interesting and inventive contribution to this genre in South African children’s literature.