I took a lot of issues with ACROSS THE GREAT BARRIER. Actually, they were the same issues I had with THIRTEENTH CHILD, but since that was the first book in the series I was a little more lenient because kicking off a new book series can be hard. For example, in my own fantasy series, a lot of people have said that the first book is the weakest and the series gets a lot stronger as the books go on. I was hoping that would be the case here, but nope; ACROSS THE GREAT BARRIER is pretty much exactly the same as the first book in terms of plot, formula, and pacing -- in fact, it actually moves slower. It took 300 pages for anything significant or interesting to happen, and this book is 340 pages.
You guys are lucky I didn't have access to a computer while I was reading this because my status updates would have gone something like these: OMG THIS IS SO BORING. Or, OMG I WANT TO KILL EFF. Or, MOTHERFUCKER. WHAT THE FUCK. I HATE EVERYTHING. SHITFUCK.
Eff activated her Mary Sue powers in the last book to solve a problem, and now everyone is praising her for it. Her twin brother, Lan, who is a double-seventh son, is super jealous because he's always gotten the praise and not her. However, he does suggest kindly that she should consider applying to college because pretty much any one of the universities would take her while her glowing accomplishment is still fresh in everyone's mind.
Eff's response: "Waaaaah, I'm not special enuff. I want to stay hoooooome! I'm not worthy!!!!"
My response: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW.
Most of this book consists of Eff whining about people thinking she's too awesome/not awesome enough, or that she's not good at Arvupan magic. She refuses to go to university because she doesn't think she's worthy, and yet when she meets a boy who's been studying Aphrikan magic all his life, she's mad at him because he's younger than she is and better than her.
It didn't sit right that a boy two years younger than me was so much better at world-sensing, even if he'd probably been learning Aphrikan magic his whole life long (192).
Fuck you, Eff.
When a guy shows interest in Eff romantically, she turns him down because she doesn't think he's her one and only. And while I don't believe in settling for less, I also think that it's equally stupid to turn down a good match because you don't think it's a good match because there is no whirlwind of passion. It seemed like the author was attempting to portray Eff as a strong female character for turning down a relationship, but I don't think Eff is a strong female character. She's inconsistently characterized, has zero self-esteem (when she's not being arrogant as fuck), and she lets all kinds of opportunities pass her by. She doesn't take an active role in her fate, she's a passive observer.
Another scene that pissed me off was when Eff brought back a mysterious stone creature. When she and one of the professors she was interning with from her father's college go on an expedition to the woods, they find this trove of petrified creatures that look incredibly life-like. Eff takes home a statue as a souvenir, bragging about how flawless it is, and how if the professor hadn't already taken this other specimen she'd found, he would have taken that one instead. She visits her brother's university and shows him the bird, but then yanks it back when he wants to study it. Because fuck science! It's a souvenir, dammit! (And it's not like she couldn't just as easily have gotten another one.)
Also, the plot arc is exactly the same as the previous book. Eff has insecurity issues for 80% of the book. Eff goes on an expedition to the woods. Eff discovers something is not right in the woods. Eff uses her special snowflake powers to save the day. Everyone praises Eff.
ACROSS THE GREAT BARRIER was an interesting idea, but terribly slow and anticlimactic. I had no emotional connection to any of the characters (Miss Ochiba isn't in this one D:), & it has lots of build-up with little pay-off. I ended up skimming huge parts of the book because it didn't bring anything new to the table. It was like a total rehashing of THIRTEENTH CHILD.