Maya is the oldest of three children who live with their parents on the ship the Pamela Jane, but has reached the age where she desperately wants a no...moreMaya is the oldest of three children who live with their parents on the ship the Pamela Jane, but has reached the age where she desperately wants a normal life on shore, maybe living with her Grandmother in Bermuda. In a storm, their parents are washed overboard, the the ship comes across a mysterious island that appears on no maps, and which matches tales their father has told them over the years.
Maya, Simon and Penny go ashore to search for their missing parents. With the help of Helix, a boy Maya's age who is rather savage, they face pirates, carnivorous vines, a jaguar-riding woman who steals children for her mines, and a war between the north and south that has ravaged island society, and a peaceful revolution trying to end the war. Oh yeah, and mermaids, giants, and a mysterious glowing element x.
I enjoyed the book, but had some quibbles. After spending nearly 400 pages on the search for the parents, in only 50 pages the parents are found, the war is stopped, they get away from the island and go home to Bermuda. The whole question about the organization that Maya's parents work for that is hunting for element x (Ophalla) is never resolved, and they leave open the question of how the Grandmother knew stories about Tamarind.
Also, if it's so difficult to get to or from the island (the storms that washed the parents overboard and the like), how is it that the island has cars, not to mention guns for the soldiers?
Still, all in all I enjoyed the book, and someday I will hunt down the sequel to see if we ever get those answers to the questions I had at the end.(less)
I really liked the concept of this book. A 16 year-old boy loses his parents, finds out that his family has a history of fighting other-dimensional in...moreI really liked the concept of this book. A 16 year-old boy loses his parents, finds out that his family has a history of fighting other-dimensional invaders, and ends up going against the conspiracy that killed his parents because of an article his mother was writing.
Concept good, execution lousy.
I know this is aimed at younger readers, but I still expect it to make some internal sense. For example, you have the scientist working for the conspiracy who was feeding the mother the information that ended up getting her and her husband killed. If his bosses find out he was the leak, he's dead. So what does he do? He sends a car and driver for the woman's teenaged son and tells him everything. Then, when the assassins descend on them, gives the boy a flying motorcycle to escape on, which the boy has absolutely no problem flying. See what I mean?
And there were many more examples of this. Too many examples
Maybe if I was a ten year-old boy, I would have enjoyed this more. Instead, I'll just say that I have no interest in the sequel, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.(less)
In a distopian future New York, living in the aftermath of a disaster that eclipsed 9/11, four people have run into... they're not sure what.
Mal's bro...moreIn a distopian future New York, living in the aftermath of a disaster that eclipsed 9/11, four people have run into... they're not sure what.
Mal's brother Tommy has vanished after leaving a panicked message that he's in trouble.
After a really bad morning, Laura discovers that her parents, and everyone else, has forgotten her.
Mike is a teacher without hope who finds a strange door in the basement of the school.
Remak is an agent of a mysterious organization that tracks bizarre trends, trying to figure out why there's been an upsurge of violent and self-destructive behaviour among people in a certain area, even just passing through.
Coming together, they need to figure out what is behind this, and why is there a building in the middle of the city that no one seems to notice.
The story had a lot of potential, but I'm not entirely sure that it lived up to it. The concept of what is going on was not very believable, and the climax was a little simplistic, although the final section implies that maybe it was all for nought. And while Mal and Laura were well-rounded characters, Remak is a paper cut-out, and I never really got a handle of why Mike behaved the way he did, or why he acted the way he did at the end.
Still, it was an iteresting read, and it leaves things open for a possible sequel. If so, I would probably end up reading it. But it does stand well on its own.(less)
Recently, I've been on a kick of rereading early Mercedes Lackey Valdemar novels. That made this book interesting to look at. On the one hand, her wri...moreRecently, I've been on a kick of rereading early Mercedes Lackey Valdemar novels. That made this book interesting to look at. On the one hand, her writing skills have definitely improved over the years. On the other hand, this book had a certain amount of plot-by numbers to it.
In the first book, Spirit White was orphaned, and sent to an Orphanage/Private School that her parents were apparently students at. The school turned out to be for magicians, but she doesn't have any magic, or if she does, it's well buried. There, she is told that there is a magical war coming, and the students are being prepared. Spirit makes friends, who are all mysteriously orphaned, and find themselves fighting the Wild Hunt, which appears to have been stealing students for decades. Students who are marked in the basement archives as 'tithed'.
Now it's Christmas, and even though her friends are ready to leave everything to the school again, Spirit isn't convinced. Someone inside the school must have let the Wild Hunt through the magical defences. But her friends tell her that she's just looking for a way to feel special. Then there's another attack at New Year's, and they're back on side. Except that when school alumni show up to train them, they turn away from Spirit again, even though earlier attackers were wearing alumni rings, only to swing back to her when there's further problems.
With friends like this, who needs enemies?
In the end, the immediate problem is faced, more hints of the overall story are revealed, and yet, it was somewhat unsatisfying. Mainly, I got annoyed with the seesawing of the friends (even if there are hints that they are being manipulated by magic, and Spirit's non-magic makes her immune). There's a character who gets introduced to reveal one bit of information, the promptly disappears again. I'll be annoyed if she doesn't appear in one of the remaining two books in the series (the ad at the back of the book says the series will be 4 volumes, but the next book is not on the publishing schedule yet).
While the book is a young adult, I get the feeling that the authors underestimated their readers. Other than Spirit, you only get to see in one other character's head (the one that disappeared). None of the friends really come across with a personality, including the one who goes through his own tragedy in this book. The bad guys were far too obvious (they almost are wearing signs saying 'I am a bad guy', and Spirit is the only one who sees it until one actually spills the beans while getting drunk with a teenaged girl). I would have liked a bit more character development and a lot more story depth.
But maybe we'll get that in the remaining books. Besides, even a bad Mercedes Lackey book tends to be a fun read, even if it's mainly fluff.(less)