With Lirael, Nix seems determined to take the effective core elements of Sabriel and intensify them:
You liked reading about young, reluctant heroes? I'll make them even younger and more reluctant!
You liked that the female lead's personality and courage was stronger than the male one? I'll do it again, but make the male both less courageous and more interesting, *and* I'll give him an entertaining friend!
You liked the sarcastic, speaking animal? I'll bring him back *and* add another one!
So there's a certain level of predictability with these elements and in the plot itself, but the thing is that it all works so well that I still felt compelled to give it 5 stars, especially with Tim Curry as the energetic and spot-on reader. I enjoyed every minute of it and laughed very loudly more than once, and I can't wait to dive into the third one.