The Penalty – Mal Peet

The Penalty by Mal PeetAs the city of San Juan pulses to summer’s sluggish beat, its teenage football prodigy El Brujito, the ‘Little Magician’, vanishes without trace. Paul Faustino, South America’s top sports journalist, is reluctantly drawn into the mystery. As a story of corruption and murder unfolds, he is forced to confront a bitter history of slavery, and the power of the occult.


11 thoughts on “The Penalty – Mal Peet

  1. Our judges say:

    I was quite confused by the intertwining plot lines, especially the slave plot. It was very well written, though.

    A vibrant cast of gods and men weave a tangled web which ends confusingly but satisfactorily.

    This book was complex enough to engage, but not in a way that would put a reader off.

    Quite hard to get into and a bit complicated.

  2. We were glad when this book ended. It was too confusing and none of us could understand it.

  3. This book was really lively but quite confusing, jumping back and forward in time. I didn’t want it to end.

  4. The start of this book is quite confusing with the story of the slave boy’s unfortunate and heart-clenching life. I would have liked to know more about this man’s adventures and travels rather than the story of the journalist investigating the missing football player. It felt that these modern day chapters were just there to bulk out the book. The ending was particularly confusing.

  5. I liked the mystery solving element of this book and also the fact it was like two stories in one – one about the journalist who got more than he bargained for investigating the missing footballer and the other about the black slave. I enjoyed learning about what he had to go through but certainly wouldn’t like to be in his position. I really liked the way the two stories tied together at the end. All in all an interesting book I wouldn’t mind reading again and would recommend to family and friends.

  6. I really enjoyed The Penalty because it can be read by anyone and has elements in it to suit everyone: football, the occult, detectives, history and more. I related to Paul Faustino because he was dragged away from the thing he was supposed to be working on and into something more interesting. I can’t find many bad points in this book although it can get confusing to jump from being a slave to a journalist years in the future.

  7. I really enjoyed this novel as it brought together slavery and religion really well. After reading the blurb I was excited to read the book and it didn’t disappoint. I thought the best apart of the novel was the end when you began to see the link between the past and future. My only problem with it is that occasionally I got confused with the storyline. However it was still a great read.

  8. The book started off ok, but by the second chapter it confused me. I couldn’t understand how it jumped from football and voices in the boy’s head to the slave trade. After a while I got used to the slave trade but then football began to come into the scene again.

    This book was an ok read but I only gave it 6/10 because I don’t think anyone in their early teens would be able to read it.

  9. On first glance, the cover of this book seems only to portray a story of spirits and rituals. In this way the cover and title of the book are misleading – does ‘penalty’ refer to football or punishment? Despite the book being about a footballer I believe it could be read by anyone as it is primarily a crime thriller.
    The factors of this book that I liked include the first chapter as it ended by leaving the reader confused and wanting to read further. Also I liked how despite the plot being unrealistic, I could empathise with some characters i.e. Prima. I also preferred some chapters to others. I liked the chapters about the slaves as these seemed to be more mysterious and absorbing compared to those about Faustino. Another reason for this is that many of the Faustino chapters were more confusing and some ideas didn’t make sense. Finally, overall I would say that while the book didn’t complete all the plot lines and was slightly predictable, it contained interesting twists and the beginning and end linked with similar events which was clever.

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