Jennie's Reviews > The Emerald City

The Emerald City by J.A. Beard
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's review
May 25, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: young-adult

I'm doing something I don't normally do: I'm being generous with my rating. Because honestly, the execution of this book fell flat on a number of scales. But I like the premise and the idea and it got better as we went along so I'm going to be kind.

That being said, it wasn't what I expected. I guess I didn't read the description well enough because I wasn't expecting magical powers, but more of a modern The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. And why is it that everyone thinks the only book to Gregory Maguire is The Wizard of Oz ??? (Beard says in the afterward that he was inspired by Maguire) Well, whatever, in theory this book had a lot of potential.

In execution I was more than a little put off by the voice of Gail (our first person narrator). I wasn't sure through the whole book if she was supposed to be telling the story as it was happening or if she was looking back telling it. When I can't tell if we are in past or present tense, you have a writing problem. It was distracting and annoying and I sincerely hope that it gets fixed in later editions and any further books.

The pacing was off for me too. Not the pacing of the writing, but the timeline of the story. Because things happen way too quickly to make any sense . She settles in too quickly, she makes fast friends too quickly, she figures out she is special too quickly. It's not like someone filled her in about her special talents (a la Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) she just suddenly guesses that she can (view spoiler). It's weird and there isn't a lot of build-up. And then you just get dumped into a not very flushed out mythology and epic battle. I like a quick pace, but this felt RUSHED.

I did like the characters, although Gail wasn't my favorite. They had interesting quirks and were uniquely realized. I believe this is the beginning of the series and the characters saved the story enough for me to be willing to try the second book. If the aforementioned issues aren't resolved in the next book, however, Beard will lose me forever.

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