1) A Different Kingdom – Paul Kearney (Fantasy)
I’ll warn you – I’m going to include spoilers when I talk about this book, simply because I don’t really have any other way to express how I feel about it.
On a five-point scale, I’d probably give it a two, but that’s not because I enjoyed it. What I thought was unique about the book was its execution: think Lost: Season 4, and its obsession with flash forwards. That’s exactly what Kearney does throughout the novel, and while I was annoyed by it at first, eventually I became intrigued and finally was quite pleased at how he was able to connect the present & future threads at the end, bringing the story full circle. It takes a careful and patient writer to do that and keep people reading, and it’s certainly not something I’ve seen crop up in a fantasy book before. So, my kudos to Kearney for using this literary device quite successfully.
What I didn’t like about the novel was… the content. Er, yes, I know that’s a fairly significant thing to say, but allow me to explain. The story is divided into three sections. In part one, nothing happens. Really. Nothing significant, unless you count a thirteen year old losing his virginity to a fairy. I kid you not – and he does it over and over and over again, and when he’s not engaged in said act, he’s thinking about it. Now, to Kearney’s credit, he never writes much more than a quick description of the female’s upper anatomy and then one line that says what they did (I absolutely cannot abide lewd sex scenes just for the sake of lewd sex scenes), but… I really had a hard time getting past the fact that this was a *thirteen year old* who seemed to be quickly becoming a sex addict with a fairy who would later on turn out to be… *serious but predictable spoiler ahead* his COUSIN. Sigh.
Moving along, part two actually has action and less “love-making” moments, and I found myself being intrigued by the plot for the first time (this is about 150 pages into a 300 page book). Part three follows along the same line, so the story ends on a satisfying note (aside from the aforementioned ‘revelation’).
All things considered, I wasn’t entirely disappointed, but I wouldn’t go recommending it when there are plenty of better things to read. I’d say it was worth the $1 my father paid for it at the used bookstore, but that’s about it.
Rating: 2 coffees out of 5
2) The 39 Clues (The Maze of Bones, Book 1) – Rick Riordan (Children’s Fiction)
Very fast paced, very fun. I’ll be honest – I’m really rooting for this series to do well. With real prizes and a collectible card game attached to the book series, I can see this series having a significant impact on getting young boys to read again. There are so few excellent books available for boys, and fewer still that will keep their attention in this fast-paced world, and that’s why I think this book series concept is such a fantastic idea. Adventure, real cards to trade, a website with real clues and prizes… whoever came up with this concept is a genius. Even having different authors write each book… so when a kid likes their writing in this series, they can go find the other things each author has written! Genius, I tell you…
As for the first book itself? It’s a lot of fun. Non-stop action, interesting characters… I felt like I was reading a kids’ book edition of a National Treasure movie. Can’t wait to pick up #2.
Rating: 4 coffees out of 5
Tags: children's fiction, fantasy