Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Darke (Septimus Heap 6) by Angie Sage

Darke (Septimus Heap, #6)Darke by Angie Sage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a good progression in the series. Situations get a little darker, and the problems more serious. Previous settings and characters are extended as they interact in new ways.  Sage evoked some emotion when she brought the Port Coven Witches to the Castle, and also (for me at least) when she sent Snorri away.  We will see if either of them return in the next book for the big finale.  I am interested to see how Jenna's "witchiness" is resolved.

Of course the same problem exists as in my previous reviews.  There is only one book to go, and I still don't know who the bad guy is going to be in the next book.  Very frustrating.  Usually the series builds to an overall climax before the last installment, and the anticipation is part of the excitement (and frustration!)  There is none of that here.  At most I have an interest in finding out how the characters fare from here on out, but there is no plot waiting to be resolved.  I hope that the conflict Sage cooks up for the last book is so grand that it does the series justice.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last time I read this book was in high school, and I remember liking it then, just as I enjoyed it this time. To be brief, I will just list one pro and one con:

PRO: The political statement/conversations addressed in this book are fascinating. They are subtle enough to blend into the storyline, but you can't read some chapters without stopping and asking what this kind of political environment would be like? How are we getting closer to it today? While I detest Peter, did he benefit humanity or is he the embodiment of why we want to oppose centralized power (dictators)? All good questions.

CON: I have a hard time appreciating the ending. The battle school experience through the final war are great, but then several chapters of self discovery that lead Ender to learn and appreciate the enemy? I know it would be hard, but it is almost like the climax of the story didn't have all of the information. Couldn't those epiphanies have happened closer together? Couldn't Ender have pondered some of the same questions before the final battle? A subjective criticism, I know, but it was a problem for me.

Syren (Septimus Heap 5) by Angie Sage

Syren (Septimus Heap, #5)Syren by Angie Sage
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Again, I like the Septimus Heap world, but I have the same main concern here as last time: no overall bad guy. She is taking this approach of related antagonists, but it is a lot less cohesive than I would have thought. She may be thinking the same thing at this point, I don't know. It is a good lesson to learn though. It is very important to have one enemy, or at least one group of enemies. The reader wants to know who the bad guy is, so they know what to expect.

Other than that the book was OK. The characters continue to grow, and the Septimus, Beetle, Jenna combination feel very "Harry, Ron, Hermione"-ish to me. Not bad, but interesting how common configurations or themes persist once they are presented in a way that really works. Enough cohesion for a great team, but enough personality differences to provide drama consistently. The three stars is largely for the overall problem I mentioned above. This book is only slightly below the last volume, in my estimation, but you have to round down at some point.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Queste (Septimus Heap 4) by Angie Sage

Queste (Septimus Heap, #4)Queste by Angie Sage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like what Angie Sage has done with the world and the characters, but I have a major problem with the series. There isn't an overall conflict. The bad guy keeps changing to a new character, and in the last two books it feels like she is stretching it by using ghosts as antagonists so she doesn't have to deal with any future plot issues. Really, the goal of each book is for the characters to save the day and thereby maintain the status quo. I want the whole kingdom to be in peril, or the princess to need rescuing or something that would tie the whole series together. I keep reading them because they are great stories individually and because Septimus and Jenna are growing and developing, but there isn't a conflict that brings me back for more. And that is disappointing.

Having said all of that, I still can't help but love the characters and the ingenuity of the world, and the way the back stories keep filling in. So it is another 4-star rating.