Victoria's Reviews > The Named

The Named by Marianne Curley
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Jan 14, 2010

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Read in January, 2010

I was really excited about this book...it got such a high rating and seemed like such a fantastic premise. Maybe that's why it seemed to fall short.

Ethan is a Guardian of Time; he travels to the past in order to keep evil denizens from the Order of Chaos from changing it, thus affecting the future. Of course Ethan's only a teenager, but he's already very good at what he does. So the Guard decides to test him by giving him the willful Isabel as his new apprentice. But Isabel's initiation brings a whole host of problems to the surface, most of them revolving around an ancient prophecy.

It sounds so wonderful, and so much could have been done with such a concept. Which is why it comes so close to painful to watch the story enacted quite a bit below its potential.

In fact, I think my irritation with this novel stems from the wasted potential. It was enjoyable on some levels, but all I could think was how much better it could have been. Ethan and Isabel have all the seeds of great characters, as do others they interact with; Ethan's wise and ever-youthful mentor Arkarian probably comes closest to being a truly relatable person. But again, they never come to life; they remain flat and stiffly-written, shifting between easy teenage narration and speech too stilted to ever really come out of a mouth. I think this is partly due to the first person narration, something that most authors are either good at...or aren't. Curley unfortunately is not. The emotions are also only vaguely felt.

The story itself also grazes shallowly along the surface of its awesome premise. Plot bumps detract from the realism; it's too obvious how the author hand-waves the various parts of the Guard with magic, illusions, or mysterious powers. It's also a tad misleading; I was expecting the bulk of the story to involve the time traveling missions, but by the end more focus is put on old feuds with evil Chaos denizens then on anything historical. And the few missions sprinkled in do little to actually expose the reader to the time period, barreling through the process and tossing in some random historical figures like King Richard II and Abigail Adams.

The premise saves the story, giving it some decent moments and a pretty good climax and conclusion. I'm not sure I'll be reading the rest of the trilogy right away; it didn't reel me in as I'd hoped it would.
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