Nathan's Reviews > The Field Guide

The Field Guide by Holly Black
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Apr 25, 12

bookshelves: borrowed-friend, borrowed-library, middle-grade, paranormal, fantasy
Read in April, 2012

The first entry to the Spiderwick Chronicles is a short book with very little story at all. To be blunt, there is very little in the way of character development and a whole lot in the way of excessive descriptive padding. Each of the character's has quirks that make them unique and identifiable, except for Jared, the protagonist, who has very little that makes him special. Both his mother and sister are needlessly rude and easily dislikable characters who should probably be hauled off by child services.

There is a nice bit of background on why the Grace children are moving to a new town, and why they are without father. And thankfully, these backgrounds aren't obviously spelled out. They're just vague and obvious enough to get the mind toying with possible scenarios, and are probably good at getting the target audience's (children's) minds working.

As for actual story, like I said, there isn't much. What Holly took 107 pages to write probably only needed fifteen or thirty. The mustard on the cake is how unsatisfying and rushed the resolution is. It just kind of... happens. And then it's over.

Pacing is stilted, and there isn't a whole lot in the way of immersion. While reading the book, you will constantly be aware of the fact that you are reading a book. There will be absolutely no moments where you feel as if you are part of the world.

The writing style reminds greatly of The Chronicles of Narnia, though it is simpler or maybe simply less practiced. It has that old timey storybook feel, and despite it's faults, that makes it a nice book to snuggle up with late at night.

Final verdict: There are better books out there, but The Field Guide will probably only take an hour or two to read. This is perfect between book material for fantasy fans, especially those who aren't afraid to be seen reading a childrens book.
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