Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz


(Read October)

I’ve been waiting for this book so long that the day it arrived I couldn’t bear to do anything else. Anyone who has read these books (or frankly, ANY of his books) can attest to the fact of how long he takes to publish them. This is the last in a 5 book series, with the fourth book having been published in 2008…that’s four years of waiting for one book. I hoped it was worth it.

In general, I’m going to have to say it was. The book was true to form in terms of quality of writing and imagery, and it managed to bring you back up to speed without the necessity of reading all the books again, which I definitely appreciated. It also began with a really nice twist that prevented him from copping out on something he was in his rights to do. Yet this ‘twist’ also meant he could revamp the story- give it a different setting, a different feel, and also a much greater urgency and challenge. I don’t want to say what it was, since I really liked the feeling when I found out, but I’ll just say that in no way could on predict it.

Getting to the story itself…uh. Mr. Horowitz really knows how to keep me on edge. Anyone who has read some of my other reviews can attest to how much I love (adore, desire, need) the fantasy “power” element in these kinds of books. They will either make or break the book for me, because they need to be grand, majestic and powerful without being showy and over-the-top. What can I say, I’m a hard man to please. But I meet my match in this man. Whenever he does the scenes with the powers, I can hardly contain my delight and my squeals of glee, but, knowing this, he very rarely let’s me have this feeling but because I love it that much, I would read on longer (lacking any part with powers) to ultimately reach that moment when I manage to squeeze some more of the unearthly delight out of him. It’s exhausting and wonderful all at the same time.

What’s a really well-done part in this book is the dystopian side of things too. The Old Ones have really gone to town on the world and it’s nice to see supernatural abilities in a decrepit, dystopian settings [1]. I’ve come to love survival type shows and scenarios during my hiatus, and dystopia offers a really nice outlet for this.

My opinion of the characters hasn’t changed. I still like Scarlet, Jaime and Richard but I find Matt increasingly frustrating. I do still lack him but, gah! That boy needs a slap across the face sometimes. My recollection of this book was also that not much time was spent exploring the characters. They had their moments and their conversations, and every few chapters we change perspectives so we can always see what they’re thinking, but I didn’t learn much else about them and it was relatively minor as a part of the book.

As with the Rise of Nine, the ending was disappointing for me. It was tremendously well-written. I’ve never been so sickened and heart-broken and moved by a YA-style book. I also kind of think this relatively traumatic ending coloured the rest of the ending for me- I wasn’t over it by the time the book ended. But in other ways, it was a little rushed and predictable. It seems that something that had happened previously was rendered obsolete for the sake of plot. But like I said, I’m a bit biased.

I loved these books: I love this book. I’d recommend anyone to read them, and I’d physically drag them around the store until they stepped out, the series in hand. But at the same time, I’m going to warn you. You get attached to the characters, even if sometimes you find them annoying or too quiet: maybe because of everything they have to go through. And then this book goes and snaps your heart in too, a malicious gleam in its eye, and blood dripping from it’s monster of a mouth. And crazily, you’ll love it while you’re hating it.

[1] If I was to ever write a book or a story, this is exactly the kind of thing I would write. I’ve known this for nigh on 4 years now. Funny, huh? J

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore


(Read September)

(Avoiding my usual pre-empt to these books…)this is the continuation of much loved (by me) series that follows aliens-that-look-like-humans-but-with-superpowers as they start on the next stage in their journey and find the next teenager in their entourage. These are never going to be the most well-written or deep of books, but it grabs that 5 rating through sheer thrill factor.

The story, as a quick reminder, follows John Smith who set out from Paradise, Ohio, to save earth and his own planet, Lorien. It turns out that he’s an alien, and to boot he has supernatural abilities. And the antagonist- Mogadorians! Aliens hell-bent on destruction and razing planets. Though I could bore you with details of their exploits up to now, the most important thing to know is that it’s basically like a Sci-Fi action movie. The main characters move from spot to spot and in between the kind of battles that makes an nerd (or person who’s ever dreamed of having special powers) drool in contentment, they manage to squeeze on romance, vulnerability and deep-set personal issues.

Don’t take my sarcasm to heart, because I genuinely like these books. I can’t really equate them to anything else (except perhaps the original animated Avatar with Aang), but they manage to tell what is an Sci-Fi action driven story without it becoming too much. Yeah, the romance is a bit rushed and silly, and okay, the personal issues tend to be your run-of-the-mill teenage angst, but if you like these books and you read them, you’re doing it because it lets you inhabit this world where such things are possible.

In terms of the story itself, without giving anything away, I’d say this does better in that regard than the other books. There’s a clearer goal (SPOILER FOR BOOK 2 ALERT!) in how they want to rescue Sam, they want to find the others, and want to figure out a way to actually prevail over the Mogadorians. There’s also some foreshadowing which, though overplayed, made me squirm with pleasure with the thought of what it meant in a future instalment.

The only part I had somewhat of a problem with was the ending. It seemed a bit overly rushed and unexplained. You might say to me “It’s a cliff-hanger, Alex!” but there’s a difference between leaving some things unsaid and telling me absolutely nothing about what has just happened. I'm being a bit judgemental, but given how much I enjoyed the rest of the book, I think that balances it out.

I’ll say thank you to Karen of For What It’s Worth here too! This was the final instalment of a prize I won almost a year ago! She knows how much I appreciated it, but thank you again!