The Eyes of Jesleia
De ogen van Jesleia (The Eyes of Jesleia) is an original debut by Judith Eiselin. Eleven year old Juliette writes a slogan for ‘The Toy Giant’ and wins a flight to Jesleia, an island in the Pacific. At first sight, it seems a dream tropical island but soon mysterious things begin to happen, she hears a mysterious buzzing and a secret language.
Guido, a boy of twelve with whom Juliette shares the prize, suspects that they are being spied upon. Because of her affected voice, spotless clothes and suspect behaviour, another girl there, Barbie-like Karlinka appears to be part of the conspiracy. Eventually, Juliette and Guido will discover the cameras which have been filming them for six weeks without their knowing it. Back home, fame awaits, but Juliette dislikes the hype and tries to escape it.
This novel criticises not only the manipulation of advertising – including trendy slogans like ‘Be a part of it!’ and ‘Your own dream island!’ – but also reality soaps like Big Brother.
The closer the reader comes to the denouement, the greater the suspense. The novel starts with Juliette writing her slogan: ‘I don’t sense any danger. I’m unaware of what’s going on. I have no premonitions, no idea.’ And from then on, there are ever more indications that the children are being spied upon.
Eiselin has managed to find a good balance in her language which is tough and contemporary, while avoiding cliches. She also uses contradictions to great effect, such as when Juliette sees television pictures of herself and thinks, ‘Everyone loves us. I never felt so lonely.’ Short, staccato sentences create a sense of urgency which increases the suspense. De ogen van Jesleia is a detective story coupled with an adventure story, written in a fresh style – a unique mix of Robinson Crusoe and a Big Brother parody.
Lieke van Duin