Friday, 13 February 2015

The Book of Beasts


Book Title: The Book of Beasts
Author: John and Carole E. Barrowman
Series: Hollow Earth #3
Date Started: February 12th 2015
Date Completed: February 13th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Mystery
Quality Rating: Three Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Three Stars
Final Rating: Three stars

I really enjoy these books, and I think they're just great for younger readers starting to move into more frequent/complex books. The concept of people who can draw and 'animate' things into the real world - while being used before - is unique in its development in this series and the vibrant depth of this will really draw readers in I think.

This series has a really nice style for children's books, but I did have an issue with the coherency of the writing: objects would just suddenly be mentioned like they were there the whole time, and events would happen out of no where without consequences or reason. Honestly the consistency in children's books doesn't irritate me as much as in more complex stories (for obvious reasons) but when I'm reading it and suddenly confused or finding it hard to keep up because things are happening out of nowhere it's a problem for me.

I did prefer the stories of the previous books, but The Book of Beasts succeeded in tying the story together in a reasonably satisfying way (I'll get to that in a minute). However, though the parts that don't include the twins had the potential to be good, they didn't end up adding to anything since this probably would've made things too complicated, but instead we've got this little snippets of the adults' stories but I don't quite see the point of it. I think younger readers would've enjoyed just following the protagonists and be satisfied with the explanations offered by the adults anyway.
The ending was very underwhelming for me - it did tie everything together and was perfectly fine, I was expecting more. The climax of a final book are usually more tense than the previous ones, but (though I admit I can't remember much about The Bone Quill) the endings of the prequels have been much more dramatic and exciting than this. The villain isn't exactly difficult to overcome and once everyone's together the story finishes. This is one of the few cases I would've liked to have a 'one week later' epilogue or something - as it was I felt things tied up but everything stopped very abruptly. (I wanted to know how the twins felt being back together; Em and Zach's relationship; what happens with the twin's mum?)

I really like the characters in these books - though I'm a little indifferent to the adults - and I really love their relationships. But some of the outer characters are a little necessary to me as they only really appear once or twice and have very little impact.
I really love following a story based on twins, especially when they're separated, because there's this real connection and drive for them to progress through the story. Having said that, I do feel that Matt is focused on more than his sister, and Em ends up missing a lot of the action, but I do appreciate that both of them are capable and talented in their own ways. I think Matt conforms a little too much to the brave-kid while Em reflects the overcoming-fear stereotype. But they're still enjoyable and good protagonists.
I really love Zach's character, and I love his normal representation despite being deaf - I also like the way it isn't constantly being used against him. Aside from the obvious, I just think he's a really nice, caring person that you don't often get in a side-kick that's still active and capable.
I have to say I don't really feel like I know Solon or Carik and I'm not entirely sure of their significance apart from preventing Matt from being completely alone in the Middle Ages. It was also very unsatisfying how we left them and they were then never mentioned afterwards.

While the pacing was far too rushed for me, I can see how it would appeal to a younger age group. This goes back to the incoherency in the plot for me but everything was very fast and events spiralled to their climax and were over extremely fast. This did make things less enjoyable for me just because I'm used to more suspense in the action.

This series has a brilliant premise for younger readers, and while some other parts of the story aren't exactly consistent, it's a lot of fun and a really nice series for anyone to read. I'd also say it's a good introduction into fantasy, adventure and even a little bit of mystery. Though in my opinion the trilogy starts off on a high and falls a little bit as you go through, the whole thing is really enjoyable and I'd be interested in a sequel if one were to be written.

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