Posts tagged ‘450-499 pages’

Egg & Spoon

Egg & Spoon.jpgTitle: Egg & Spoon
Author: Gregory Maguire
Narrator: Michael Page
ISBN: 9781491502167 (audiobook)
Discs/CDs: 11 CDs, 12 hours 51 minutes
Pages: 475 pages
Publisher/Date: Brilliance Audio, c2014. (audiobook) Candlewick Press, c2014 (hardcover)

She is an insane old woman, though Cat, but at least I’m safe in the warmth, and she knows ho to cook. The old woman was ladling pink broth into a bowl whose sides were etched with obscure runes. “Drink up, my dear. I find borscht a wonderful marinade when applied from the inside.” […]
Cat demurred and said, “Who are you really?”
“I’m Queen Victoria. I’m Nellie Bly. I’m Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean — what difference does it make? I’m hungry and I want to eat, so do my bidding.”
“I couldn’t dare take your supper. I have nothing to pay you with.”
“You’re not taking my supper, you’re supplying it.” (141-142)

Gregory Maguire creates a tale reminiscent to the Prince and the Pauper. Even though Ekaterina isn’t a princess, she has many more advantages than Elena, who is essentially starving to death as she tries her best to care for her sick mother after her father has died and her two brothers taken away from home. A lightning strike forces their unlikely meeting, and Elena finds herself in an enviable position when the Ekaterina’s train takes her away from the poverty and towards the Tsar’s palace. She hopes to use that opportunity to reclaim her brother from army conscription, but she doesn’t know that Ekaterina is hot on her trail with her own transportation. In their travels, they realize that Russia might be in more trouble than either girl, and are recruited by the fabled folkloric witch Baba Yaga to solve the problem of melting ice and disappearing magic.

Michael Page’s voice is properly moderated between the high pitched, stereotypical screech of Baba Yaga and the clipped tones of the prince (although he does sound vaguely English and not Russian). Even the two younger girls have slight differences that easily distinguish between the educated Ekaterina and the more rurally raised Elena. The sweeping landscape is described beautifully, and Elena’s situation is especially heart-wrenching when readers realize the troubles behind her meager existence.

Maguire’s tale is less impressive, for if readers are familiar with the story of the prince and the pauper, then they essentially have the plot of the first part of the book. The second half pairs the girls on an adventure to save Russia. It’s discovered that the floodwaters and dampened winter and magic are connected, involving the firebird and ice dragon. I was unfamiliar with the ice dragon legacy, and was intrigued by my introduction to this Russian myth. By the end of the novel, the twist, feel good resolution revealing the cause of the trouble is somewhat moralistic and preachy, encouraging the human race to whine and want less and focus more on reducing the wants of others. It’s an unexpected altruistic message, and while anti-materialists might appreciate the thought, I was disappointed that such a long journey yielded so little action in the conflict.

The magic in the story is supplied by the magic that the girls encounter through their association with Baba Yaga, who has multiple distinguished and unique traits including her unpredictability, attitudinal house which reminds me of Howl’s Moving Castle, sarcastic shape-shifting familiar, and pattern of speech which allude to time travels or future premonitions. She is by far my favorite character in the whole story. I can only imagine the fun Maguire must have had in writing her scenes considering the fun I had reading them. Her nontraditional exclamation “Honey Buckets!” became a term of endearment towards her guests, who while certainly unpredicted are not entirely unwanted, regardless of what she alludes. I find that same sort of unexpected endearment towards her in what ultimately is a overly long, predictable plot. Extreme fantasy and fairy tale/folklore fans might appreciate this exposure of not-often portrayed Russian mythology, but most will probably loose interest before the quest even begins.


The Sculptor

SculptorTitle: The Sculptor
Author/Illustrator: Scott McCloud
ISBN: 9781596435735
Pages: 496 pages
Publisher/Date: First Second, c2015.
Published: February 3, 2015

“So what if the art thing didn’t work out? Is it really that important?”
“It’s all I have.”
“What would you give for your art, David?”
“I’d give my life.” (32-33)

With those fateful — or maybe fatal — words, David sets the next 200 days in motion. David has spent so many years trying to accomplish his life’s goal of making a name for himself in the art world. But he’s currently a down on his luck sculptor who has no future work prospects, no girlfriend, no family, little money, and will soon be homeless. So he’s spending his last dollars on his birthday getting drunk at a local diner, until two unexpected visitors – one is an angel and the other is death – deeply impact the next six months of his life.

Visually stunning and satisfying. These are the first two words that come to mind after finishing. Scott McCloud literally wrote the book on comic books. This graphic novel proves that not only can he talk the talk, he can also walk the walk. The writing and drawings are equally affecting, and in some cases I paused to not only process the plot but also come up for air as I was immersed in this world. The monochromatic colors change the mood with the flip of a page, with one section using a much darker blue color scheme to convey the dark emotions and some panels and pages being completely devoid of color. Some pages are more traditional in their layout, whereas others change the tone of the narrative by either switching from a white gutter to a black one, and in some cases doing away with the gutter completely. The full-page panoramic shots are eye-catching, but the varied layouts add interest and keep readers engaged. Sometimes they feature detailed street scenes with identifiable individuals in the crowd, other times focus on a single character close-up which draws readers into the dramatic relationships, and that unique final sequence feels like a flip book as it follows one character’s descent.

David, the epitome of a starving artist, just can’t catch a break, at one point claiming he’s cursed, being told it’s just bad luck, and asking “What difference does it make?” His grand goals and aspirations are what continues to drive him. He can’t think small, he can’t be confined by what others in the art world dictates. He needs to succeed in a big way and make a name for himself, which is especially influenced by his having to distinguish himself from an already successful artists with the same name. He has made promises to himself that he refuses to break, which bring morals and character to an otherwise selfish and self-centered persona. In fact, he’s criticized for his impatience and his inability to consider anyone else’s needs, whether it deals with his life personally or professionally. His life of ongoing disappointments make it difficult for him to connect with others, and you see through his few relationships how loyal he is to them, although those friends have long recognized that they can’t count on him to “act normal”. His awkwardness in social situations is stereotypical (think of any geeky, artistic character, in any romantic comedy, and you have David) but if you have a problem with the stereotype don’t blame the artist and it’s also endearing to watch David try to navigate this space.

Meg is beautiful. Her unexpected meeting with David is rooted in today’s culture, but we view things from a previously unseen perspective. She is so full of energy and life, even though as we later learn she has her own scars and past to confront and manage. Her spontaneous, optimistic, romantic heart contrast against David’s more pessimistic mood swings, but David comes to realize that he can’t just take those attitudes for granted. Many have complained that Meg is a foil for David’s character development and she isn’t as developed as she could be. I feel that while this is a valid complaint, we see her primarily from David’s perspective when they are alone together, so I feel like this point of view is justified within the context of the story. Meg’s background is a mystery, sure, but that’s because David is so self-absorbed he doesn’t think to ask and when he does she is reluctant to reveal and let him in, going so far as to warn him not to let her push him away. While David’s attraction to her is fast, Meg holds him at bay until she is sure of her own feelings.

The presentation of Death is interesting, and David’s conversations with him bring to mind questions of death, memory, fame, art, and immortality. Some questions that spring to mind for possible discussion, if I ever get around to using this as a book discussion:

  • Do you continue to “live on” after death when others remember you?
  • Is David’s pursuit of fame on par with the pursuit of immortality?
  • How did events in David’s past influence his current goals? What are his goals, and does David accomplish them by the end of the book?
  • Is art for the sake of the artist or the public?
  • How often do artists intend their symbolism in art, is it found after the completion, or is sometimes a square just a square?
  • What qualifies as art, and who decides between underground and mainstream pieces?
  • On page 217, there is a discussion about rules, and how you “can’t break the rules”. Is this true? What are some of the rules that David tries to break and what are some of the rules he tries to keep?

Although some have called it cliched with the presentation of Meg as a “Manic Pixie Girl” and David as the starving artist ready to do anything to catch a break, this hefty tome is definitely thought-provoking. The plot twists, while somewhat expected, are no less gut-wrenching as we watch these two characters try to navigate this world. Portrayals of frontal nudity cause me some hesitation in handing it to younger teens, but high school students could definitely empathize with David’s struggle to make a name for themselves and garner fame as they pursue their own futures.


SeraphinaTitle: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman
Narrator: Mandy Williams with Justine Eyre
ISBN: 9780307968920 (audiobook), 9780375866562 (hardcover)
Pages: 465 pages
CDs/Discs: 11 CDs, 13.5 hours
Publisher/Date: Listening Library, Random House Children’s Books, c2012.
Publication Date: July 10, 2012

“We find your security inadequate, Captain Kiggs. This is the third attack in three weeks, and the second where a saar was injured.”
“An attack you set up shouldn’t count. You know this is atypical. People are on edge. General Comonot arrives in ten days–”
“Precisely why you need to do a better job,” she said coolly.
“–and Prince Rufus was just murdered in a suspiciously draconian manner.”
“There’s no evidence that a dragon did it,” she said.
“His head is missing!” The prince gestured vehemently toward his own head, his clenched teeth and windblown hair lending a mad ferocity to the pose.
Eskar raised an eyebrow. “No human could have accomplished such a thing?” (25-26)

Forty years after a treaty was drafted and agreed upon, relationships between the dragon and human populations are strained at best. When the human Prince Rufus is murdered in a draconian manner, all eyes turn to the dragons. Dragons, who can assume the physical appearance of humans in order to interact with them, are being taunted, attacked, and held under suspicion. With the treaty anniversary approaching and official dignitaries from both sides meeting, Seraphina is kept busy as the newly hired music assistant. But her close, long-time friendship with a dragon puts her in a unique position to understand their analytical, emotionally detached way of thinking, and Seraphina quickly finds herself aiding Captain/Prince Kiggs in his investigation. They’d better act fast though, as the dragons and humans are meeting soon, and there may be a murderer in their midst with plans for more mayhem.

What can I say about this book that hasn’t been said already? I’ve tried really hard to avoid all the praise that has been heaped on this debut novel, but it’s almost unavoidable. Even the cover is stamped with praise from such big names as Christopher Paolini, Tamora Pierce, and Alison Goodman. I truly fell in love with this book, and the audio was excellent from start to finish. Yes, the dragons might be the stereotypical unemotional beings, but Hartman does manage to add depth to the dragon characters’ rationality, even though feelings are treated like the plague for their kind. If I remember correctly, I compared the story to someone as if Star Trek Vulcans could fly and were plopped down in Renaissance court, something of a Spock meets Shakespeare.

The language is beautiful, the setting has depth and breath and, since Seraphina is a music teacher, sights and sounds come alive. Hartman has created a world with social and cultural background, from a full pantheon of diety-like saints and court etiquette to navigating political turmoil and espionage. Mandy Williams does an excellent job with her voices and has the inflection spot on, in turn emphasizing the emotion of the humans and the reserved nature of the dragons. I really appreciated the choice to have Justine Eyre contribute (I won’t say in what way) because it clearly separated those two narrators and indicated the shift to readers. I have to feel sympathetic towards Kiggs because you know by the end of the book he has some of this figured out and he’s just trying really hard to ignore the obvious inconsistencies of Seraphina’s personality. What a personality Seraphina has though, it’s no wonder she makes friends so easily. She’s very likable in her naive sort of way, which aids her in convincingly lying when necessary to aid her in treading that fine line between navigating and mediating for the two distinct worlds. She’s got a quick mind that is showcased throughout the book, something we don’t really see in strong female protagonists very often who are usually too busy trying to save their own skin or getting involved in some sort of love triangle. Seraphina does both at some point throughout the story, but it’s not the whiz-bang action but more a thinker novel. If you’ve seen the newest version of True Grit, I view her as very comparable to Mattie Ross (the little girl) in regards to her wits, intuition, and tenacity.

There were two things that I do have to complain about though. At the very end with the scene between Kiggs and Seraphina, I kind of wish that had gone differently, just because they have an amazing friendship that is built over their mutual collaboration and admiration for each other. Seraphina’s humanity and her struggle to find her place in the world really ring true, with the author exploring some topics that some teenage girls are faced with in terms of self-acceptance. The other thing that fell flat for me was Seraphina’s “mental imaginings” (what would you call them without giving them away) until you figured out what they actually were. Then they just struck me as massively convenient. As in “REALLY? You just did that because you’d backed yourself into a corner and needed somewhere to go with this, so you added this stuff to make it work.” I think the story would have been much more interesting and Seraphina much more relatable if she didn’t have this mental block hanging over her head and she didn’t have all these clues to fall back on. Isn’t one distinguishing aspect of her enough, now she’s a freak of nature? I hope this makes sense to people who have read the book.

Both of those things played a very small role in the book, and while I think they’ll later have a larger impact on my appreciation of the series, it should by no means detract from anyone’s enjoyment of this book. I’d heard good things about this book, but the real reason I finally made an effort to snag a copy was that it was named a finalist for the Morris Award, YALSA’s award for a work of young adult fiction by a debut author. YALSA’s blog The Hub has issued a challenge to readers everywhere to finish the finalists before the award is announced next week. Go check out the Hub’s interview with Rachel Hartman that they just recently posted, along with information about the challenge itself. It’s also a Cybils finalist for the Teen Science Fiction and Fantasy category. At least take a look at this book before the sequel, titled Drachomachia, is released this fall.


Title: Behemoth
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Illustrator: Keith Thompson
Narrator: Alan Cumming
ISBN: 9781442334106
Pages: 485 pages
Dics/CDs: 8 CDS, 9.5 hours
Publisher/Date: Simon Pulse, c2011. (Audio: Taped Editions)

His words faded as a metal groan filled the air, the world tilting beneath them. Deryn’s dress boots skidded sideways on the silk carpet, and everyone went stumbling toward the howdah’s starboard side. The railing caught Deryn at stomach level, and her body pitched halfway over before she righted herself.
She stared down–the foreleg pilot below had toppled from his perch, and lay sprawled in a circle of protesters. They looked as surprised as the pilot did, and were bending down to offer help.
Why had the man fallen from his saddle?
As the machine stumbled to a halt, something flickered in the corner of Deryn’s vision. A lasso flew up from the crowd and landed around the shoulders of the rear-leg pilot, then he, too, was yanked from his seat. A man in a blue uniform was scrambling up the front leg.
“We’re being boarded!” (115)

In this sequel to Leviathan and predecessor to Goliath, Deryn (still assuming the identity of a boy on the airship Leviathan) and his crew have arrived to Istanbul to deliver Dr. Barlow’s mysterious packages. On the way there, Alek and his guard are involved in a misunderstanding that portrays them as treasonous. It doesn’t help when war is officially called against Austria-Hungary, and Alek is forced to flee certain imprisonment. Both Deryn and Alek find themselves enlisting the help of an American reporter there to cover the war, but can they really trust a man whose goal is to publish the secrets that he uncovers? As resistance against Istanbul’s government increases, Deryn and Alek might have gotten in over their heads.

I couldn’t believe that it had been over a year since I had read Leviathan! The plot just stays with you so strongly, I was able to pick up right where the story left off like I had read it yesterday. Just as fast paced as the first one, Scot Westerfeld keeps the action high with attacks on whale ships, mechanical vehicles that remind me of Star Wars ATAT and ATST walkers (even if they are described as resembling animals), and the characters themselves. We see Deryn engage in some unique hand-to-hand combat as well as some destructive espionage and spy maneuvers. The politics are described extremely well, although they still might prove confusing to some readers. The only quibble I have is that the genetically modified animals appear less unique to me in this book, with quite a few displaying mimicry skills. However, this could easily be accounted for as a skill that is most desired during war-time.

I listened to the audiobook this time, and Alan Cummings did an amazing narration job. But I found myself craving Thompson’s drawings and requesting the print copy just to better visualize what was being described. Once again, Thompson’s drawings bring everything to life and allow readers a glimpse into this fantastical world that Westerfeld has created. Either listening or reading the book, the one supplements the other and you get an amazing experience no matter which method you prefer.

I had this book on the public desk beside me just waiting to be checked in, and one 13-year-old immediately turned it around and was flipping through the pages. When I told him it was the second one but we had the first one in, off he happily trotted, leaving a very satisfied camper who was excited to start the series. I hope he is every bit as involved in it as I am, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the third one. But, alas, I do have to wait a few more days until it’s returned by the current borrower. A fine middle novel with a satisfying ending but an ending that also sets the scene for a much-anticipated sequel, which is already available. Recommend this genre bending book to advanced readers who aren’t quite ready for the guts, gore, or romance of the older teen materials.

The Undertakers

Title: The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses
Author: Ty Drago
ISBN: 9781402247859
Pages: 465 pages
Publisher/Date: Sourcebooks, Inc., c2011.

Pratt was the neighborhood grouch. Somewhere in his seventies, he lived alone, kept to himself, and got pissed off more often and with less reason than anyone I’d ever met.
“I’m talking to you, Ritter!”
I tried to speak–I really did–but no sound came out. When you turn around expecting to see something familiar–not particularly pleasant but familiar–and instead see something else altogether, it takes a little while for your brain to catch up with your eyes. Some people might call it shock. I call it the holy crap factor.
Ernie Pratt was dead–very dead–which didn’t make much sense because as far as I knew, dead men didn’t get pissed.
He was wearing what he usually wore in the mornings: a white terry-cloth robe and slippers, except the skin inside the slippers had gone as dry as old paper. His face was gray and pulled tight around his skull. One of his eyes was hanging out of its socket, dangling by a short length of thick, corded tissue. The other one, looking milky and sightless, nevertheless stared at me. His lips were gone, receded, revealing a black-gummed mouth with only half the teeth it should have had, and even those were as yellow as old eggs.
Which is also how he smelled. (4-5)

Twelve year old Will Ritter wakes up one morning and realizes that his next-door neighbor has become a walking corpse. His day unfortunately goes from bad to worse when Will escapes on the school bus, only to realize when he gets to school that his assistant principal and math teacher are less than alive as well. After being rescued by classmate Helene (pronounced like it has three a’s) , Will becomes involved in a secret organization of kids called the Undertakers who are among the few people able to identify these Corpses. Will is less than pleased about being drafted into their organization, but soon realizes that there are few other options. As the organization is forced to consider switching their tactics from defensive to offensive, Will just might be the recruit they need to tip the scales in humanity’s favor.

My coworker and I were very intrigued when this book came in to see a zombie book for middle schoolers. How many other zombie books are out there for this age group? The cover is appropriately creepy and blood-red toned, which definitely adds to the appeal in my opinion.

The story itself rises to the occasion as well. The zombies–excuse me, Corpses–are described in gruesome detail. In the dedication, the author thanks his son “who read it and offered helpful (and often profound) insight into the realities of his age, his culture, and his mysterious language.” It definitely shows, with the text riddled with mild cussing (crap, hell, pissed, etc.) that is definitely warranted and rings true to the horrific, scary, and adventurous outings that the teens experience. Will’s pleas for his mom at one point is also unique, because so many times in children’s books the main character is just thrust in their world saving position and blindly accepts their new role. Will doesn’t, and is really reluctant to joining this group and getting involved, and his actions realistically reflect what some scared tweens would be feeling. I really appreciated that aspect of the story. Another realistic aspect of the book: people die. Books where no one dies in an end of the world preservation fight really annoy me, and the fact that the characters were affected and mourned the loss of their fellow fighters is even more authentic. The fighters solve their problems with ingenuity, technology, physical confrontations, and a little bit of luck. Okay, in some cases a LOT of luck, with people coming to the rescue just in the nick of time on more than one occasion. But Ty Drago (even the author’s name is cool!) does an admirable job explaining these last-minute saves, and it works without any trepidation crossing your mind as you’re reading.

It’s a fast paced, high energy novel that should get readers invested in the story. I could definitely see myself book talking this title to tweens and teens, especially around Halloween. There are twists and turns that readers don’t see coming, and although the ending is satisfying, it’s also open-ended enough to leave people excited about the sequel, Undertakers: Queen of the Dead which is coming out in October 1st (perfect again for Halloween!) AND there’s apparently a third one in the works too!

UPDATE: I did book talk this to fifth and sixth graders during my summer reading visits, and they wanted to get their hands on it immediately, especially the boys.

A World Without Heroes

Title: A World Without Heroes
Series: Beyonders #1
Author: Brandon Mull
ISBN: 9781416997924
Pages: 454 pages
Publisher/Date: Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, c2011.

He attempted to double back to the reading area, but could not find that, either. Instead, he came to a different open area, where the only furnishing was a black pedestal surmounted by a huge book.[…]
The book appeared to be bound in human skin. Upon close-examination Jason observed that the fleshy covering had tiny pores, fine hairs like the ones on his arm, and light blue veins visible beneath the surface.
Aghast, he tentatively touched the surface, withdrawing his finger instantly. It was warm to the touch, with a yielding texture that suggested more thickness than he had expected. It felt alive. […]
Thumbing through the remainder of the yellowed pages, Jason found them all blank. He closed the tome.
The covering of the book had broken out into gooseflesh. So had Jason.
Could the admonitions he had read be real? Surely the book was of no great importance if it lay up here in this dusty attic. Behind the most intricately locked door he had ever seen. In a library hidden in the middle of the forest. Oh, crud.
Suddenly a flap of skin lifted on the center of the cover, revealing a glaring eye. A human eye. (61-64)

Jason Walker’s day starts out like any ordinary day. He does some batting practice with his friends, chats with the girls who pass by, and then volunteer at the family owned local zoo. It’s then that Jason’s day becomes anything but ordinary as he gets sucked inside the hippo and transported into Lyrian, a world of political intrigue and fantastical magic, both of which make it difficult to know who to trust. Paired with a home-schooled girl from Jason’s own world named Rachel who also appeared in Lyrian at about the same time Jason did they both unknowingly get thrust into a battle of wits and endurance against the dictatorial ruler, the wizard Maldor. Will Jason and Rachel be able to help their new “friends”, or are they doomed to spend their time running for their lives? Or, when given the chance, will they abandon their search to save themselves and return home?

Brandon Mull is at his best here. Filled with twists and turns, readers are just as clueless as Jason and Rachel on who to trust and what to do next. The world building is extraordinary, with new creatures at every turn, with my favorites being the displacers, creatures who look human but have the ability to remove and then reattach parts of their body. The trials are equal parts brain and brawn, and I loved how unique this concept was. There’s enough fast paced action to leave any reader breathless, as the body count quickly mounts. There’s just a hint of romance, which begs for elaboration in future books.

Actually, there’s a lot that begs for elaboration in the upcoming sequels. That ending… Oh what can I say about the ending without giving anything away… I can’t. It’s a cliffhanger if I ever saw one, which leaves readers protesting “But…. WHAT!? But what about Rachel? What about Jason? How are they going to…” Nope, can’t spoil it. You’re just going to have to take my word for it and read it. It’s downright unfair, and I can’t imagine how they’re going to get out of the problems they are facing. The sequel <em>Seeds of Rebellion</em> doesn’t come out until spring, so you have a while to wait just like me.

The Throne of Fire

Title: The Throne of Fire
Author: Rick Riordan
ISBN: 9781423140566
Pages: 452 pages
Publisher/Date: Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group, c2011.

If you didn’t listen to our first recording, well . . . pleased to meet you: the Egyptian gods are running around loose in the modern world; a bunch of magicians called the House of Life is trying to stop them; everyone hates Sadie and me; and a big snake is about to swallow the sun and destroy the world.
[Ow! What was that for?]
Sadie just punched me. She says I’m going to scare you too much. I should back up, calm down, and start at the beginning.
Fine. But personally, I think you should be scared. (1)

It’s been several weeks since Carter and Sadie Kane rediscovered their powers as descendants of an Ancient Egyptian house of magicians. They though they would have a chance at mastering their new skills before being called upon to save the world again, but the gods have other ideas. The Chaos snake Apophis is breaking out of his cage, and the set of siblings believe the only way to fight the Chaos is to revive the sun-god Ra. That’s easier said then done, as they first have to recover the three separate pieces of the Book of Ra, then find the slumbering sun-god since no one knows for sure where he is. And did we mention that not all the gods are thrilled with the idea of waking Ra in the first place?

Okay, I can see now the benefits of having some previous knowledge regarding Greek and Roman mythology. I was able to follow Percy Jackson series, and even the Lost Heroes series. The last time I discussed Egyptian gods and goddesses was probably in grade school, where we learned about mummies and the Egyptian empires and the Pharoah’s hat that looked like a bowling pin. Suffice it to say, it’s CONFUSING, especially since apparently they sometimes had more than one god or godly incarnations for the same thing, like Ra, who has three incarnations (morning, noon, and dusk).

That being said, I still think it’s the action that draws readers to these stories. The cliff-hanger chapter endings work, but since this is supposed to be a recording of Sadie and Carter telling the story, it gets a little choppy, since I can’t see most people stopping in the middle of the story and saying “Okay, you tell your story now, and I’ll continue mine when you get halfway done.” It just doesn’t work that way. The magical workings also seem a little haphazard, as the rules seem to skew to “this is how it works when it’s convenient” as opposed to “this is how it works — period”. I have to admit, some of the tricks the Kane kids pull out of their bag sound really cool, like applying magic to a smaller representation in order to affect something larger. Some of the twists towards the end are appealing unexpected, and add a dimension to the story that will definitely affect the plot in future books.

I’m a little worried that Rick Riordan is going to become something like James Patterson at the rate he’s writing these books. Is he going to start “collaborating” with other people in order to produce more books? I certainly hope not. While I liked the series, I found I had forgotten quite a bit of what happened in the first book, and that’s a sure sign that it’s not going to make my top ten list for the year.

%d bloggers like this: