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.
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.
The mystery of the 39 clues has concluded: Amy and Dan have won the Clue Hunt in all the ways that matter and they can finally go home to take a well deserved rest. Or can they?
Taking a slightly different approach to the multi-author series, this book sets up the next leg of Amy and Dan’s story by starting way back in the past and following four different generations of Cahills to show us how things became the way they did:
- First we start with Rick Riordan’s story about the original Cahill family, showing us how the Cahill formula was discovered, how the family shattered, and how the family’s biggest rival came to be. (It is appropriate for Riordan to write this first part, since the 39 clues series were his idea.)
- Next we follow Madeleine, the fifth child in the Cahill family as she attempts to reunite the siblings she never met.
- For our third segment, we skip ahead some centuries to Grace Cahill as she finds herself mixed up in the clue hunt and family rivals as a young girl.
- Finally, we come back to the present when the siblings are drawn back into the fighting before they have had time to settle back into their lives at home. Are they ready for a rival stronger and more vicious than the other branches of the Cahill family ever were?
The major downside to getting a book split into four separate stories (even if they all play a part in the bigger picture of our story) is that we don’t get much time to really get to know the different characters involved. The characters, for the most part, come off as a bit one dimensional until we come to Grace (because we have learned so much about her already) and Amy and Dan (who we’ve been following all along). In particular, most of what we learn about the original Cahill siblings is told to us rather than shown to us, simply because there isn’t time to spend on each of them. I would not have been upset if they had instead written us three prequels that went into the stories in depth. That being said, it was still an interesting and exciting book.
The best part of the story is easily once we get back to Amy and Dan. Immediately the question of how the Cahill siblings would adjust to normal life after such crazy adventures is answered. They have a hard time doing it. Everywhere they look they see danger and assassination attempts. And to be fair, it isn’t all in their heads. They are quickly drawn into another world-hopping adventure, but this time they are fleeing for their lives.
My biggest complaint in this book is that I miss the other members of the Cahill family that we have come to know over the course of the series. Now that they have friends in all of the branches, I wanted to see those friendships utilized in one way or another. (To be fair, there wasn’t a lot of time considering they had only a quarter of a book to finish their adventure.)
I like that Amy and Dan have finally decided to become a bit more proactive and can’t wait to see where things go.
Amy and Dan have found out the truth about their branch of the Cahill family–the Madrigals–and along with this revelation is a new assignment: to reunite the branches of the family. But can Dan and Amy put all the backstabbing and murder attempts of their family behind them?
We have finally hit what is sort of the end of the story, but really just the start of something bigger. Amy and Dan are racing to the finish line in a clue hunt that has taken them around the world and back to the place where it all began and they are not sure if they can put the past behind them.
A lot happens in this book: We are surprised with the addition of another set of siblings in the Cahill clan (I wish we had met them a few books earlier to really get a sense of them and to really connect with their own struggles). Isabelle Kabra becomes crazier and more imbalanced than we have seen her thus far. All of the branches are forced together to discover the truth of their past and what is coming in their future. And a dangerous new enemy is revealed–an enemy that can only be fended off with the help of a united family.
We are left guessing until the very end who will win in the clue hunt that has been going on for centuries. Amy and Dan finally come into their own and step up in a way that they never could have done before the series began.
This book is longer than those that preceded it, but it doesn’t feel dragged out or too long. The story moves quickly and stays exciting the whole way through.
The book doesn’t shy away from the tough issues that Amy and Dan face, which is the best element of the story. Our characters (not only Dan and Amy) are complex and interesting in a way that few books manage with such a large group.
I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.
The mystery of the 39 clues is approaching its end and you can feel the mystery winding down as big secrets are revealed and our characters change. Amy and Dan know what branch of the family they are from, but they are not sure if it is a branch they want to be a part of. But there is still a good deal that they don’t know about the Cahill family and that information could change their clue hunt forever.
Our favorite siblings know that their babysitter/nanny/au pair Nellie has been keeping secrets from them. But her secret may be the most shocking thing they discover on their crazy search around the world. And if they can’t trust her, who can they trust?
As always, the series manages to combine interesting historical facts with surprise, mystery, and scary moments. Amy and Dan have really grown over the first eight books and we are finally seeing what the toll of this difficult hunt has had on them. They have become paranoid and untrusting (which no one can blame them for) but they have also learned to depend on each other, use their brains, and be confident.
My favorite element of these books is that no matter what you think you know, there is always something to surprise you. Book 9 is no exception, as we join Dan and Amy when they discover the truth about the mysterious man in black who has been following them and the truth behind Nellie’s secrets.
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?
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.