Friday, January 30, 2015

The Warrior Heir--Cinda Williams Chima

Title: The Warrior Heir
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion, 2006.
Pages: 450 p.
Source: Library ebook
Compensation: None

The story opens with a prologue that immediately sucks you in and leaves you wanting more. Unfortunately you have to wait quite a while before you get it. We're introduced to a mysterious world where children have to hide from evil wizards. A young boy, Lee, discovers his family has been murdered and watches his warrior sister get stolen. He vows revenge. Fast forward 100 years. A heart surgeon is attempting to steal one of her infant patients when the boy's aunt discovers it and convinces her not to take him as a baby but to wait to claim him when he's older. The main plot begins sixteen years later. 

Jack has had to take strange medicine everyday for his entire life because of a heart surgery when he was just a baby. He's always had to be extra careful and his mom has always worried. One day he forgets his medicine and discovers he feels stronger and more capable. Unfortunately his new strength puts him in danger. Jack is part of a magical family--wizards, enchanters, warriors, sorcerers--that each have magical stones designating their power.  Wizards have always been in charge and feuding with one another. Rather than continue killing each other in bloody wars, wizards have devised a game in which warriors will fight for them in a tournament. There are fewer and fewer warriors born, mostly because the wizards keep capturing and killing them. Jack is one of the few, or possibly the only, warrior left. Which makes him a very valuable target and in immediate danger. 

Most of the story is Jack finding out about his heritage and training and running from bad guys. It's a little slow. But once Jack finally makes it to the tournament the story picks up speed and is difficult to put down. This is an interesting world with lots of potential. I'm looking forward to continuing the series with The Wizard Heir next.  

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Clariel--Garth Nix

Title: Clariel
Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2014
Pages: 400 p.
Source: Library
Compensation: None

If you're one of the few regular readers of this blog and not just a googler, you should remember my obsession admiration for Garth Nix. I particularly loved the Abhorsen Trilogy. Which is why I may have flipped out a wee bit when I saw he had written another one! Clariel is not a sequel to the trilogy, but rather a prequel that takes place hundreds of years before.

Clariel is a loner who just wants a simple life of living in the woods and working as a Borderer. Unfortunately she is part of an important family with ties to the Abhorsen and the King and when her mother is called to live in the city, Clariel must go with her. While there she is drawn into political intrigue and murderous plots, and discovers that she is a Berserker. Her berserk nature makes her very vulnerable to free magic and makes it very hard to resist free magic's tempting power.

Clariel is an interesting character, unlike any of Nix's previous heroines. She is flawed, and while some of her actions are understandable, she is more of an anti-heroine than a truly likable character. I'd rather not give away any spoilers, but when Clariel's identity is revealed at the end of the book, it's clear that this is an "origin story."

I didn't love-love this one as much as I did the others but in retrospect I think it was because I didn't know what I was reading. I kept waiting for Clariel to be the hero, to be the next Abhorsen, to be what I expected. But that wasn't what this story was and I don't think I was supposed to love her like Sabriel. The more time I have away from it, the more I appreciate it.

I am REALLY looking forward to his next Abhorsen book which IS a sequel.
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Monday, January 26, 2015

King Dork Approximately--Frank Portman

Title: King Dork Approximately
Author: Frank Portman
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2014.
Pages:384 p.
Source: Netgalley
Compensation: None

I read King Dork a LONG time ago when I was still working as a YA librarian. I remember talking about it at librarian meetings. It seems like a lifetime ago (it was) which is why I was so surprised to hear talk of a sequel. I had remembered enjoying King Dork, even if I didn't think it was the best thing ever, so when I had the chance to read an ebook through Netgalley, I jumped.

King Dork Approximately picks up where King Dork left off. Tom Henderson has mostly recovered from his injuries (read the first book) and is still muddling though life trying to figure it all out but things are even more confusing for him. His mom and step dad are having problems, his best friend Sam Kellerman has shocking secrets of his own, and on top of it all he has to attend a new school when his infamous old one is shut down. He finds himself trying to be invisible by completely blending in to the new school's serious School Spirit. It works and he finds himself with a girlfriend and unbelievably a torment-free existence. But nothing lasts forever and pretty soon his true colors shine through. Luckily there's a female robot in class to save the day.

Fans of King Dork will appreciate this sequel. Tom hasn't lost his sarcastic outlook. Once again, music plays a big role in the story. Tom's band has graduated from just coming up with names to actually playing instruments and practicing. If they can rein in their drummer's flair for unnecessary solos they actually sound ok, so Tom and Sam come up with a crazy method to do just that. Tom's band is the most entertaining part of the story.

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