Fourteen-year-old Artemis discovers an unraveling time tunnel connecting demons with the earth. These imps have sworn revenge on humans generations ago, and their unpredictable appearances threaten to expose the entire fairy world (not to mention put the human world at risk as well). Artemis is called into service to help the fairies figure out when and where the demons will be and outsmart his latest nemesis. Worse, there is an evil demon overlord looking to take over the human and fairy worlds.
Book five in this series is such an excellent book, which is a major accomplishment for any author. By book five many authors are running out of new and exciting ideas but Colfer finds a way to keep things fresh and exciting. Best of all, he adds two new, promising characters–one of them a love interest for young Artemis. (We have seen Artemis mature, but for the first time we are seeing him grow up as well.)
The book ends with the best feel-good moment of the series yet, developing Artemis and Holly’s relationship further than ever before. Their story has come so far and continues to be as exciting as when we first started it.
Book two picks up right where Game of Thrones left off–Arya is on the run with the Night’s Watch, Sansa is held captive by child king Joffrey, Robb leads an army against the Lannisters, Bran holds down the fort at home, Jon has gone beyond the wall, Theon has returned home to take his rightful place as heir, Stannis and Renley are gathering their respective armies in order to claim the throne of the Seven Kingdoms for themselves, and Danny prepares her Dothraki forces. The book is as complicated as it sounds. Not that it is a bad thing. Part of the draw for this book is the utterly complex political situation set in the backdrop of a fantastical world where magic exists but is not in abundance (a rarity in fantasy).
One of the things that Martin does best with his characters and stories is the complexity of the story. Right and wrong is not nearly as obvious as other books tend to make it. Sure the Lannisters (minus Tyrion) are pretty awful, but for the most part, everyone has understandable if not honorable motives. In book one we saw Ned Stark struggle with honor and by remaining so rigid he end up losing his life and putting his children in trouble. Was that the right idea or should he have bent, at least a little, until he could better plan? Similar issues are grappled with in this book: Should Robb bend to the Lannisters to save his sisters? Should Theon be more loyal to the Starks who raised him despite being held essentially captive or should he attempt to reclaim his place with his true family? Should you stay aligned to a lord or a family member when you don’t believe in the methods they employ?
Arya is still one of my favorites, for her strength and ingenuity. Even Sansa is growing on me, though despite all that’s going on she somehow clings to her romantic ideals which gets a little frustrating. It felt like we could have gone deeper into Theon’s internal struggle, which is more complex than perhaps any other character’s in the book. The one character I really cared nothing for was Davos who seemed like a random character used more for plot device than because we were supposed to connect or care about him in any way.
Though it felt like some of the plot was rushed (dealing with Renly in particular seemed to come and go so quickly it was hardly worth having him involved in the first place), it was generally full of well-paced action. Not quite as many shocks as book one, but still an enjoyable read.
The brilliant thing about the book before this is that at the point where Artemis was becoming less criminal mastermind and more all around nice guy, Colfer built in a sort of reset button, which in turn impacts the events of this book.
Opal Koboi is back with a bigger, more dangerous plan. But most importantly, she wants revenge on all the people responsible for her former downfall. Artemis is out of the picture thanks to his mind-wipe (he doesn’t remember his time with faeries and all the changes he has undergone have been lost as a result). When Opal frames Holly–turning the LEPrecon captain into a fugitive–who can she turn to for help?
The story is perhaps the most complex of the series thus far, with complicated breakouts, new information about fairy creatures, more insight into the underworld we have been coming to know, and hi-tech machinery. Though I might have hoped for slightly less craziness (it seems surprisingly easy to break out of fairy prisons considering how much more advances they are technologically), but the story remains true to the heart and emotion we have come to love.
I wasn’t as impacted by a specific character’s demise as I would have liked to be. We didn’t know quite as much as we might have about the character (whose name shall not be mentioned here) and therefore I didn’t feel as connected to that person as I could have. Perhaps if we had had a bit more time and information, but as it stands, it wasn’t as affecting as it might have been. That said, Colfer handles the aftermath of that death realistically and skillfully. Even though I couldn’t feel sad the way I was when say Dumbledore died, I did believe that the characters were sad, which was enough.
Maybe not the best book in the entire series, but still fun and enjoyable and definitely worth the read.
Artemis, super-villain extraordinaire, has both his mother and father back. He has one last plan before he settles into an honest life–a supercomputer compiled from stolen fairy technology. But he may have met his match. When his deal goes wrong, the cube is stolen, and one of the people he is closest to is deathly injured, everything he cares about is put at risk. In addition, his mistake might lead to the discovery and ultimate destruction of the fairy races below ground. Can Artemis, with the help of part-time/part-time ally Captain Holly Short set things straight in time?
Though I was sad to see the sidelining of one of the more common characters, it was nice to see more of Juliet who is now mostly grown up. She has a small, but satisfying story arc, which is all you can really ask for side characters.
Mulch Diggums also returns–I like how he always gets pulled into the story, no matter where he is or what he is doing. It also doesn’t feel overly coincidental, which I find many fantasy authors struggle to accomplish. He is my least favorite character (gnomes are a little too ridiculous for me) but he still always feels integral to the story, so I can appreciate him.
My favorite relationship of the series, Holly and Artemis, did not have as much development as it has in the first two books. This is unfortunate, but on the plus side, we did get a little bit of insight into her feelings for Artemis.
This book is darker and more complex than the others in terms of morality and trust, which is something I like to see in a series as it grows. Artemis himself has undergone a great deal of change over the course of the three books and I can’t wait to see where he goes from here.
Emma has never had any doubt that she will follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a dragon slayer. So when she is assigned to slay fairies, she is anything but happy. She takes it out on Curtis, the attractive but quiet boy who gets “her assignment” instead. But when Emma finds herself fighting dangerous creature that only she can see, she will need to dig into her mother’s past and find a way to put her dislike of Curtis aside. Otherwise, the entire world–and most especially the people she cares about most–will be at risk.
I have always found the idea of special schools for magically gifted kids to be a logical and particularly enjoyable facet of many fantasy series. This was something I was particularly excited to read in this book–a school where people who can see evil elemental creatures are specially trained to slay them. I was disappointed not to get much time spent in the actual school as I would have liked, but many of the other elements of the story worked so well that it wasn’t something that bothered me.
Emma is the most well developed character (which makes sense considering it is first person from her perspective). Ashby had to walk a fine line to keep Emma’s whining from being irritating, but she managed to make her a sympathetic and realistic teen. Her friends are somewhat less developed, though they have some fun quirks that make them enjoyable anyway.
I would have liked to find out why Emma tested to be a fairy slayer (especially is fairies were considered unkillable). I didn’t love the fact that ultimately there was nothing inherently about Emma (or her family history) that made her able to see the creature that no one else could find–it ultimately felt like chance and anyone could have done what she did had they been where she was when she was. It also felt like the way to fight the creature was a little out of place with a series where all creatures have kill spots that make them explode. It felt a little silly.
Despite these complaints, I really enjoyed the book and hope Ashby opts to write another adventure for Emma. (At present it seems like she’s going to lead a fairly dull life and that would be a shame.)
Finally, we have come to the book that everything has been building up to. The final battle has come and Gregor does not have the free reign he has become accustomed to in the Underland. His family is being kept hostage, the rats seem to be winning, and there is a secret code that could turn the tide of war if only they could solve it. Can there ever be peace in the Underland? And who will survive this bloody war?
Many series stumble when they deal with the “final event,” the “thing we’ve all been waiting for,” but not Collins. This book deals with every plot line introduced. The stakes are higher than ever as the prophecy has revealed something awful about Gregor’s future, something that no one can bring themselves to tell him but that he has to know. Can Gregor make it out of his final adventure alive?
Like in Harry Potter, we are confronted with the idea that perhaps prophecies are only self-fulfilling. Maybe they are so vague as to possibly fit in anywhere. Maybe they are utter nonsense. Or maybe, they are the true, unalterable future. Whatever your conclusion may be at the end of the book, the prophecies still drive our story forward, forcing our characters into hard, unimaginable choices.
We find out what happens to every character we have come to know and love, and even the ones we’ve learned to hate (the Bane) and you can’t help but feel for all of them. Because no matter how obvious the “right choice” is, the Underland is a world where things are never so easy and obvious as one might hope. Good is twisted and people sometimes find themselves without options. Collins has really created a rich, complex world that I am sorry to have to say goodbye to.
This fast-paced page turner will keep you guessing until the very end, when the only thought you will be left with is: “why must this series end?”
I have a hard time leaving a book I have started reading unfinished. Even when I hate the book, I usually still find myself wanting to know what happened. That being said, there were many times when I considered putting this book down.
The story follows Lily and Mark as they go from orphaned servants to important members of Agoran society. Lily has been an orphan her entire life and was sold by her orphange to work. She comes to work as an astrologer’s servant, where she comes to meet Mark, a boy who grew up in the slums and was sold by his father to the astrologer’s son–Dr. Theopilis when they had both contracted a plague that was sweeping the poor in the city. Agora is a city where everything is about contracts, ownership, and sales. Even emotions can be extracted from a person and sold. Events conspire to lead the pair of friends of opposite paths–Lily works to help the poor of the city while Mark becomes rich and influential. But something bigger is at stake–Lily and Mark are part of a mysterious prophecy meant to determine the future of the city itself.
It feels like we are missing steps throughout the story. We jump from point A to point D to point G, etc. So much time elapses from one chapter to the next that we are always being given summary of the time we missed. As a result, we can’t get involved in the story and just settle into it. It also makes the development of the characters and story feel forced and unrealistic because we didn’t get to see it happen.
The message of the story, about the need for charity, the importance of human life, and how money can corrupt, feels a little preachy instead of natural. I would have liked it to be slightly more subtle. (Perhaps without Lily literally spelling it out at one point…)
Ultimately, I couldn’t get into the story and have major issues with the way it ended. It simply didn’t seem to make sense logically [Spoiler]: How can they change the city if they cannot return to it?
Gladiator culture becomes part of US culture, first through an attempt to find peace without war, then as a high stakes game of life and death. As the culture evolves and the organization in charge changes the rules to ever increase the profit, the life of those within its system become ever more complicated. Lyn has had seven gladiator fathers, her mother is the epitome of a gladiator’s wife, and Lyn is expected to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Lyn isn’t sure this lifestyle is for her, but when the fighter who kills her seventh father picks up her dowry bracelet, the rules state she must marry him. Otherwise, her family may lose everything.
This book is one of the most fascinating books I have read in a while (perhaps since the Hunger Games). Haines manages to create a very real and frighteningly possible world where money and media surpass ethics and morality. Gladiator’s lives are nothing if not used for entertainment.
Lyn’s journey–from questioning child of seven gladiators to grieving daughter to fiance to a warrior in her own right–is so touchingly real. you cannot help but root for her, even without knowing how you want things to turn out. Should she marry her father’s killer? The answer seems obvious, but Haines manages to make you wonder if maybe you do want the pair to end up together.
Some of the characters are complicated and strange. You can’t help but want to yell at some and to step in to protect others. Which exactly the balance you want in a good book.
Here we have an excellent social commentary without becoming too bogged down in political climate. I thought this book was great and I only hope Haines intends to write more Young Adult.
In truth, this book is more of a part one of two than it is really a book on its own, which isn’t to say there is anything wrong with it. The book is still great, it simply forces you to continue on to the next way (which I would have read regardless because the series had been so solid anyway).
When Luxa gets news that the Nibblers (them mice) of Undlerland) are in trouble, she and Gregor attempt to sneak off to help them. They do not make it out unnoticed and are forced to take along a number of others. Their journey takes them to a dark, unexpected place where they learn what is behind the mice’s troubles and attempt to save them.
The groundwork that Collins laid out in the first two books really starts to play itself out. The Bane is no longer a cute baby mouse, but a somewhat grown up, out of control creature who means big trouble for the Underland.
This book feels a little more similar to the Hunger Games series than those that preceded it. It is darker and grimmer than anything we have seen thus far and sets us up for the all-out war we knew had to be coming–what fantasy series is complete without it?
We have watched Gregor grow into his role as the Warrior but he still has more to learn. He may be a rager (someone who transforms into a great warrior), but he doesn’t know how to control his abilities. He can’t seem to make the slightest bit of progress with his ecolocation training. But even with these problems, he is stronger than he was when we first met him. And he’s older, which means he’s starting to realize the attractions of the opposite sex, which leads to some unwelcome, awkward moments.
This installment serves to endear us even further to Gregor, Ripred, and some of the other Underworlders, while showing us just how awful and complicated things can get.
Dragon Keeper is the tale of a young orphan girl who serves a cruel master who is meant to care for the emperor’s dragons. Though at first she gives little thought to the dragons, the death of one and the mourning of the remaining dragon make her reconsider. She realizes that she is the dragons’ only chance at safety and freedom. Together they embark on a journey that is full of challenges and discovery.
Wilkinson paints a clear picture of Ancient China which helps make the story feel real and believable. The set up is strong and engaging. The orphan girl is sympathetic.
Despite this, I couldn’t get myself invested in the story. Most of it felt slow and plodding and I just wanted SOMETHING to happen. I love dragons and I love strong heroines and still it did nothing for me. The dialogue feels unnatural and forced. There was a nice little surprising piece of information at the end but it isn’t enough to make me want to read the next book to find out what happens to the dragon and the orphan.