colleen the fabulous fabulaphile's Reviews > Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull
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's review
Feb 19, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: action-adventure, fantasy, middle-grade
Read from February 18 to 19, 2012


I really liked the first book of this series, and had high hopes for it. I even recommended it to people - people who have gone on to enjoy the series, as a whole, more than I seem to be doing.

But, for me, every book has gotten progressively less interesting, and I'm glad that it's only a 5 book series because I don't think I'd stick around if there were more than just the one book left.

Not that it's all bad. Seth is maturing and his developing powers are interesting, especially the way that his dark powers interact with Kendra's light powers. And it is very action packed, so for those who like a high amount of action and don't mind sort of shallow characters and rationales for that action, then I'm sure it's a very exciting book.

But therein lies my problem - the characterization remains weak, and this is doubly disappointing 'cause it's one of the things I liked about the first book - the development of Seth and Kendra. But whereas Seth is developing, Kendra seems kind of stuck in a rut - not to mention she refuses (view spoiler)

But the other characters are pretty thin, too. I went back and reread my review from the last book and I said something about how all the adult characters, with minimal exceptions, are pretty interchangeable and just there to protect the kids. This remains true for this book, and is perhaps even worse.

And, really, it's just one adventure after another after another. And they're thrown into these situations, told they have slim chance of surviving, and yet don't seem to have much trouble real with it. They always seem to have the right maguffin for the job, and I just never felt any suspense of intensity.

I actually had to actively stop myself from skimming towards the end. Even after the big twist I still didn't really feel connected. I had a twinge of "Huh, really? Well, that sucked," but that's it. And (view spoiler) I should've felt sad, or angry, or heartbroken, or something. Anything.

I think part of it is the thin characterization, but part of it is the writing, too. There are big info-dumps that arrive at conveniently placed plot-points, the writing - especially the dialogue - is kind of clunky and unrealistic sounding, and everything is spelled out, leaving no room for any kind of subtext.

I know someone is reading this and thinking "you're expecting too much of a kids book", or something to that effect, and all I'll say is that I read a lot of middle grade books that manage it, so that's no excuse.

Anyway, I just really hope that the last book in the series wows me in some way, 'cause I really don't want to walk away from this series feeling disappointed.
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02/18/2012 page 314

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