Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Violet Keystone by Garth Nix

The Violet Keystone (The Seventh Tower, #6)The Violet Keystone by Garth Nix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Ok, so this is the last book in the series. If you decide to read these books, and I hope you do, I recommend getting the combined volumes, rather than reading them one little book at a time. The continuity would have been nice.



So the pros: The best thing about this book is that it is so Garth Nixish. The only way to describe it is realistically abstract. The characters are real. The society speaks to challenges in our own society. The setting is blissfully fictional. I really really really hope I find more to read by Nix.



The cons: I have pointed it out for every volume: this was written for a really young audience. While I think it hit its mark, I can't help but think that it was a waste of Nix's talent. He can do so much more for a 9th grade+audience, that writting for a 4th grade audience seems like a total waste. Take Aenir and super-size it. Make the world deeper, the denizens of Aenir more co-dependent, their society more relevant. Take the number of characters from among the chosen and double them. Let them run amuck, running into each other, affecting Tal, having their own subplots. This could have been Harry Potterish in scope rather than Junie B Jonesish (don't get me wrong I love JBJ too). Sigh. Just a lost opportunity for so much more enjoyment.



4 Stars. Double the length/depth and it is 5.







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Into Battle by Garth Nix

Into Battle (The Seventh Tower, #5)Into Battle by Garth Nix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Another quick read. I am trying to place what the spiritual/metaphysical practices of the Icecarls remind me of... I think it is the cult-classic Galaxy Quest, and the mak'tar chant of strength (Larak tarath, larak tarath). Anyway, it is almost funny, and yet somehow fits that a teenage girl is able to put herself in weird trances all the time, and now is leading an army (that's not a spoiler, it is more or less on the cover.)



So while I deal with that, I'm still enjoying the occasional ah-ha moment where I see an obvious theme poking out into the light. 4 stars.



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Above the Veil by Garth Nix

Above the Veil (The Seventh Tower, #4)Above the Veil by Garth Nix

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


These books are so short that I don't have a lot of new things to say about this installment of the series. My opinion is more of the whole series. So why did this particular book only get 3 stars? Well, while the status-quo was maintained, I didn't get any surprises from this plot. It kept the story moving and that was great, but nothing above that stood out to me (especially now that I'm writing this a few weeks down the road.) So it only gets 3. Still respectable. Or maybe it is being unfairly punished for my lack of memory (born from lack of sleep...)



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Aenir by Garth Nix

Aenir (The Seventh Tower, #3)Aenir by Garth Nix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Hmm. This book incorporates the spirit world of Aenir into the setting, bringing to life the concepts Nix introduced in the first two books in the Seventh Tower series. What I like about this is that there are deeper levels to his story, or his message if you will, in this book. It offers a mature, could-be-studied-in-English-class aura to a much younger audience. Readers can look at Tal's experience and question what they believe to be reality. They can consider what it really means to escape your reality and substitute another, sometimes dangerous, reality. And don't forget the troubles that can be started by evil entities taking a position of power over the masses. Oh and stir in an oppressive caste society to add some flavor.



Great book to be enjoyed by all. Another 4 stars.



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Castle by Garth Nix

Castle (The Seventh Tower, #2)Castle by Garth Nix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


So this series (Seventh Tower) remains simplistic, so simplistic that I almost feel guilty for counting this as a separate book. And then I remember all of the Robert Jordan monsters I read this year, and I don't feel bad any more. It all averages out.



I think of Castle as the next chapter to the story more than the next book, but even when targeting a different audience Nix continues to deliver enthralling worlds, realistic characters, and fantastic plots. He keeps things moving along at a good pace, yet doesn't miss the key details that he needs to build on later. Four stars for consistent awesomeness.



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