Stephen's Reviews > The Pearl Wars

The Pearl Wars by Nick  James
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's review
Oct 25, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011
Read from October 16 to 24, 2011

While Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars doesn't always fire on all cylinders, "mass" kudos are due Nick James for delivering the goods in this exciting debut novel.

Skyship starts off strong and gives you good reason to keep reading. The story is interesting enough and I liked having the dual protagonists in Jesse and Cassius. Nick James fleshes them out pretty well — I made more of a connection with Jesse than I did Cassius — but I would have liked to learn more about both of them. The ancillary younger characters were not well developed and two of them — Eva and Avery — seemed to be interchangeable to me and could have just as well been combined into one person. Skandar, Jesse's best friend, is cool enough and provides the occasional comic relief, but doesn't serve much of a purpose otherwise. The adult characters, however, just seemed to be there for the sake of having some adults around to keep the kids from running amok. Madame as the villain comes off a little too "Cruella deVille'ish" for my tastes.

Shifting back to the story, I give points to Nick James for coming up with a pretty original idea. I liked the idea of the pearls as energy, the conflict between the "ship" kids and the "surface" kids, and the post-apocalyptic wasteland in which the tale unfolds. Sure, we've seen elements like these in dystopian novels before, but James' unique voices gives this yarn a spin all its own. I do have to say that the twist at the end — why does everyone have to throw in a twist? — was cringe-worthy. I won't reveal it here, but I will admit I didn't see it coming (I totally should have). Even still, it made me shake my head and say, "this again?" I just finished a book with a similar twist and had the same reaction. It wasn't enough to ruin the book for me, but I was a little disappointed. Nick James more than made up for it, however, when some additional details are stirred into the pot for flavor.

All in all, this is a fun read and an excellent debut by Nick James. I look forward to reading more from him in the future. Part two, Crimson Rising, is coming next year, and I'll definitely pick up a copy to see where James takes the story.
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