Posts Tagged With: hidden world

His Dark Materials: The Amber Spyglass

by Philip Pullman

The final book in the trilogy follows Will as he tries to find Lyra, who is being kept in a permanent state of sleep by Mrs Coulter. In her dream state, Lyra communicates with her dead friend Roger, and she forms a plan to travel with Will into the afterlife to help him. Meanwhile, Mary Malone has stumbled upon an opening into a fantastical world with strange creatures who take her in as their friend and maybe saviour. Lord Asriel continues his plot to undermine the Authority, and Mrs Coulter struggles with her newfound emotional attachment to her daughter. A lot happens.

You may have noticed that I stopped reviewing books for a while. That is because of this book. Even though I am a fast reader, it took me ages to finish this book. As much as I loved it, it was almost too creative to read. I would start reading it and then get distracted and have to go create something of my own or just stare into space contemplating love or the universe or something. In the His Dark Materials series, I felt the momentum stall in the second book with the introduction of Will, who I couldn’t bring myself to care about. Everything picked up in this book, though, and I became really invested in his character and his relationship with Lyra. I loved all of the characters, even if I felt nothing for them in the previous books. I can’t say enough about how wonderful the writing is. The descriptions of the action, the different worlds, and the different peoples are so vivid I felt like I was watching this book instead of reading it. This series is definitely going on my re-read shelf, even though I think it will take me forever to get through it all again.

Obviously recommended to people who have already read the first two books. To anyone who may have given up over the course of the series like I did, I urge you to read on because it’s definitely worth it.

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The Good Neighbors: Kith

by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh

Book two in the Good Neighbors series starts somewhat awkwardly, with a scene of Dale and Justin’s band playing a show, and a faery offering Lucy a love potion. Rue is single-tearing as she narrates a mini-summary of the last book’s events. A couple we don’t know has a dramatic outburst and the girl runs into the haunted forest, setting in motion one of the threads of this book’s plot. We see Dale’s homelife and how he is coping with learning about Rue’s heritage. After this, the story really starts. Aubrey wants Rue to join him, believing and fearing Tam’s prediction that only she can stop him. Rue’s mother sends a shadow to lure Rue to the faery hideout, where she talks more with her mother and with Tam. She learns more about her grandfather’s plan for the city, but is unsure about how she can stop it, or if she even wants to.

This book definitely suffers from middle book syndrome. It starts disconnected from the first volume, and just fits a bunch of insignificant plot threads into the space of time before book one and book three. Panels were devoted to developing Lucy and Justin’s romance, just to pointlessly tie them up in the overly wrought theme of romantic betrayal in this volume. While I felt like Dale’s behavior was realistic, I didn’t really care about what it meant for his relationship with Rue. I wasn’t sure why the nymph ladies even wanted to Riley-Finn him anyway. It all seemed really pointless. Rue seemed so emotionally disconnected from everyone around her, and not in a character development sort of way. I no longer felt what she felt, so it was hard to care about any of the characters. The illustrations are consistent with the first book, but a lot of wideshot frames have less detail in them–particularly in the faces–making it hard to read characters’ emotions when some big events happen.

Still a recommended book for those who have read the first one and wish to continue, but I may change my mind about recommending the series if the third one is as unfocused and emotionally indifferent as this one.

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The Good Neighbors: Kin

by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh

Rue doesn’t worry about anything. That is, she never used to. But now that her mom has disappeared and her dad has been charged with murdering one of his students, she’s starting to look critically at the world around her. Why does she see things no one else can? What’s with all the vines that seem to be encasing all the buildings in her city? Was her mom a crazy person or was she something else entirely? And, most importantly, what does all of this have to do with Rue? A murder mystery, complete with faeries.

As with all graphic novels, the illustrations are the most important part of the book. If the drawings don’t match the story, I usually put the book down after the first page. Naifeh’s art was excellent for this book. They make it easy to tell who is who, what is happening, and what everyone is feeling. The backgrounds are detailed enough to provide a clear setting, but not so detailed that they became distracting. Naifeh’s style fits the story really well, enhancing its dark atmosphere and making the world and characters more full and vivid than they would have been if this was just a novel. Also, there are quite a few characters of colour, which is something I wish I didn’t have to applaud, but very few graphic novels include such a realistically diverse cast of characters. So, bravo to Naifeh for doing it right.

The story is compelling enough, if not entirely original. I don’t really care about Rue very much but I am curious about where the story is going. The side characters are developed to the same level as Rue and have problems of their own, which opens up a lot of options for side stories that may become more central in the next two books. The writing is opaque enough to stir curiosity, but not so unclear as to confuse readers or (in my case) cause irritability. Overall, I like the dark urban supernatural mystery Black & Naifeh create together, and I’d read on.

Recommended for fans of Holly Black, faery stories, urban fantasy, and stories with angsty teens finding out they have magical lineage. A pretty dark read with none of the love-at-first-sight supernatural romance fluff found in so many other faery stories. If romance blossoms in later books, it will be of the gritty variety.

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The Perilous Realm: The Shadow of Malabron

by Thomas Wharton

The first book of the trilogy follows a boy named Will Lightfoot, whose father has packed his family up to move them across the country. Will is unhappy about moving away from the house he lived in when his mother was still alive, and as an act of defiance steals his father’s motorcycle to go to The Perilous Realm, a circus he sees from the highway. On his way, he crashes the motorcycle and is hurtled into a tumultuous alternate reality where the stories from our world originate. He teams up with a motley crew and sets out to find the gate through which he may return home.

This is an epic quest type of book, with references to Lord of the Rings, Little Red Riding Hood, and the King Arthur legends. The idea of a world where all of our stories originate is super interesting, as is the idea that malicious characters can wage wars within that world in order to make all stories their own. The ideas are what made this not a tedious read for me, but the characters are so stock it hurts. What? A boy who is secretly special? A feisty girl who is smarter than the boy but who has no character development? How about a wise old man who knows everything but says very little at a time? The reviews of this book all laud Wharton’s writing style, but the first 80 pages are brutally amateurish. Will looked into the shards of mirror and got that feeling–you know, the one where you know the person looking back at you isn’t you but some malevolent force that now knows your thoughts and memories and will try to find you to harm you? Get that one every morning! The book does pick up, though, and the twists and turns are compelling. I’d read the next one.

A good read for kids who are willing to pick up thick books and who love adventure, Arthurian legends, or creatively imagined worlds. And there’s a talking wolf!

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The Night Tourist

by Katherine Marsh

In the New York underworld live all the ghosts of those who have died in NYC. At least, they’re still there until they resolve all their issues and move on. Jack has not moved on. In fact, Jack didn’t even die when he got hit by that car. Even though he’s not dead, he can see dead people. That’s how he meets Euri, a ghost girl about his age who leads him to the underworld. He enlists her help to find his mother, who died in New York years ago. The living are not welcome in the underworld, though, so Jack and Euri must conduct their search while being hunted by a three-headed hellhound who wants to tear Jack to pieces. On top of all of this, Jack can only stay in the underworld for three days before he loses the ability to return to the land of the living.

This book is full of mysteries, like, Just who is this Euri? Why is she helping Jack? Why does Jack share some abilities with dead people? Did he really die in that accident? And why don’t the dates on his mother’s death records match up?

This is a cool mystery for kids who are into Greek mythology. It has a balanced amount of suspense, action, and character development, and is also obviously written by somebody who knows their stuff. A good one for older kids suffering Percy Jackson withdrawal.

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Beyonders: A World Without Heroes

by Brandon Mull

This is a good a book as any to start the blog off with. Like this book, my blog is similar to scores of other blogs out there. It’s predictable, and you’ve probably read similar reviews elsewhere. But hopefully, as I found with the first installment of Beyonders, there will be that something extra that catches your fancy and makes it worth your time to read.

On to the book! Jason is just a regular kid (yawn). Then he falls into a hippo’s mouth, which takes him to another world, called Lyrian. There he accidentally starts on a quest with Rachel, a girl from our world who also recently stumbled into Lyrian. They want to go home, but are persuaded that the best way to get home is to first destroy the evil emperor, Maldor. They go about Lyrian trying to gather all the syllables of Maldor’s secret name, which will destroy him when spoken in his presence.

I picked this book up because it was shiny. I started reading it and was instantly bored by the main characters: a “regular” guy whose one non-average talent will surely come in handy later, and an annoying know-it-all girl whose demands to be treated equally are kind of silly because, danger! I came to like them a little bit more as I read on, but it was really the world that kept me reading. Such interesting side characters and weird creatures! There’s constant adventure, with captivating (if sometimes predictable) twists throughout. Even though the characters and the set-up are total cliches, I actually really enjoyed this book and would read the next one.

Definitely a good one to recommend to kids who like adventure stories like Percy Jackson.

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