Posts Tagged ‘Novel’

This is the second book to the Amulet Graphic Novel series. I also plan on reading and reviewing the third book soon, so stay tuned. A fourth book is scheduled for release on September 1, 2011, and I have it on my to-acquire list already. How many total books there will be, I have yet to find out.

Be sure to check out my review of the first book (The Stonekeeper) if you have not done so already.

Story overview:
After having rescued her mother, Emily travels in her great-grandfather’s portable house to a local town. Her aim is to find a doctor that can remove the poison, which put her mother into a coma.

Soon after docking in the waterfall town of Kanalis, the elves track down Emily, Navin, and Miskit. Thankfully, for them, a stranger in the form of a human-like fox comes to their rescue. This fox, Leon Redbeard, safely takes them to the best doctor in town. There they learn that the only antidote for the poison is found in the treacherous Demon’s Head Mountain.

Escaping an elf segue against the hospital, our adventurers come across a secret hidden base for a group of rebels. These rebels were put in place for the day she and her brother arrived. As Emily embarks on a journey to find the cure for her mother, Navin takes on his new position as leader of the rebel army and heads out to recover their house from the elves.

My thoughts:
I enjoyed reading this one just as much as the first. Finished it in two sittings, but would have probably done so in one had it not been for the NyQuil I downed an hour before (head cold). I’m looking forward to reading Book 3 in the next week or two.

Things to consider:
Appropriately aged for preteens and older, this book maintains the same standards as the first: no sexual situations, foul language, or gore–there’s no need to shock the audience with these things when there’s enough mystery and adventure to keep the reader going. I can see both girls and boys enjoying this tale.

Opportunities for discussion:
The amulet seeks to consume Emily and take control of her body. It claims that this is for her own good as doing so will give her great power. Yet Emily fights against this desire and demands that she be the one in control, regardless of the consequences. I liken this to anger and rage. There are times where we feel that, if we let go and let our anger take control, it will make us stronger. The problem with this is that, if we do, we more often than not hurt those we care about. Giving in to our rage may provide a temporary satisfaction, but when the dust settles we must face the consequences of our actions. Consider these verses: 1 Corinthians 13:5-7 (NIV) “. . . [love is] not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” And Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . .” Emily understood that she would lose these things if she gave into the amulet. Help your children to understand that they too will compromise their standings if they give into anger.

Past reviews in this series:
1) The Stonekeeper (Amulet, Book 1)

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This is the first in a six book series by Irish author Michael Scott. A movie version also seems to be in production. When swinging over to Amazon to check out the ratings, I was satisfied with the high marks from over one hundred reviews, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Story overview:

In the modern world, Twin siblings, Sophie and Josh Newman (teenagers) work across the street from one other. One day Sophie notices shady looking characters entering the bookstore where her brother works. Among these characters is the underhanded John Dee, whose goal is to capture the owners of the bookstore along with a book that is definitely not for sale on their shelves.

This book is called the Codex, which unlocks many of the world’s mysteries, including the secret to immortality. The owners of the bookstore are Nicholas Flamel and his wife, Perenelle (who both happen to be immortal, and very old). Dee manages to capture Perenelle and the Codex, but in the process Nicholas escapes with Josh and his sister Sophie. It seems as if all is lost, but then Nicholas learns that—during a struggle—Josh ripped out some of the pages in the book; making the important parts useless.

Once Dee discovers this, he pursues Nicholas, Sophie, and Josh to recover the missing pages. Why? Dee seems to be the representative of an ancient race called the Dark Elders, whose mission is to recapture the world from the humans, and somehow they need the book to do this. Nicholas, however, has other plans as he is convinced that these twins are part of an ancient prophecy. With the help of Scathach (a vegetarian vampire (yes, really . . .), and second generation Elder Race), the team goes on an adventure of discovery and retreat.

My thoughts:

OK, so I know this book sounds good. The ratings say it is good. But I had a hard time staying interested. Why? (1) The use of Third Person Multiple Points of View and Omniscient Point of View is jarring and disjointing. I feel as if the author was trying to get into too many heads. And really, I didn’t care about John Dee; he was the bad guy, why did I always need to know his perspective? (2) It seemed to me as if there was too much needless information. There were a few times where I yelled, “I get it, you don’t need to explain it any further!” Also, the actions of the characters mostly spoke for themselves, yet the author was always describing them, he described . . . everything. (3) Too much needless back story. A lot of it didn’t seem to matter in the forward plot movement. So, my conclusion? I didn’t like the writing style all that much. And the story itself didn’t pull me in. But, that said, others did like it, so I suggest you see for yourself.

Things to consider:

There is mention of an old earth, as the Elders lived many years before man. Apparently men came from the apes and messed everything up. I know this is fantasy, but it does take place in the “real world” and more than subtly promotes the idea of evolution. That, and it highly promotes the modern idea that power comes from within each individual. These and other things mentioned in the story leads me to wonder if the author’s beliefs reside around the modern Humanist Manifesto. (Such as: “Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.” And that the universe is self-existing not created.) Just something to keep in mind. There’s no real inappropriate language or sexual situations, and the violence level is fitting for this type of tale (and audience). The audience? Boys and girls, probably around their early teens.

Opportunities for discussion:

Speaking of the Humanist Manifesto, if you are a person of faith and you are unfamiliar with this movement, then I strongly suggest that both you and your teen become familiar with it. In a lot of ways this has become the new “modern religion.” You can read a copy of it at americanhumanist.org . Obviously, this movement is pretty anti-Christian, but I believe we should take the time to try and understand other perspectives so that we can better present the truths we ourselves have discovered.

theforceunleashedMost everyone has heard the name Star Wars. Some people know more about the saga than you’d think possible while others have a limited awareness. But from the utmost fan to the novice, The Force Unleashed aims to please.

This story takes place between “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” and “Episode IV: A New Hope.” Launched as a video game by LucasArts this Novel adaption was written by Australia author Sean Williams, who has also co-written three books in the New Jedi Order series (which I have yet to read.)

Story overview:

One fine day as Darth Vader was out frolicking on a foreign planet, he kills countless Wookies while making his way to the home of a Jedi. The original Star Wars movie indicated this time in history–when Vader tracked down all the Jedi and slaughtered them–which is why Yoda was in hiding. At any rate, Vader succeeds at killing the man, but to his surprise a little boy (the dead man’s son) summons the very lightsaber out of Vader’s hand. Rather than kill the boy, he takes him in as his secret apprentice.

In the game this scene was shown in the beginning, but in the book we don’t learn about it until later when the boy–now grown into a young man–experiences visions from the past. It was at this time he was searching out people who opposed the Emperor. Unlike before, he wasn’t there to kill them, but was on Vader’s orders to rally them to start a rebellion. Yes, that rebellion. Why? Vader said it was so he could overthrow the Emperor and take his place, with Starkiller at his side.

With Starkiller’s attractive pilot, Juno Eclipse, they travel the stars in order to fulfill his mission. We come across some familiar characters, such as Leia Organa, and get an earlier glimps of the Death Star. Starkiller finds himself torn between his loyalty to Vader and his love for Juno, and in the process we are wonderfully exposed to many twists and turns.

My thoughts:

The story was much better than I thought it would be. Aside from the clunky action scenes–that sounded like a summary of the video game–I found myself getting into the tale. As a video game (which I’ve only partly played on the PS3,) and a book, I think the best adaption of this story would be in a movie format. I can see this being a hit on the big screen as it almost seemliness intertwines into the original franchise. I give the story four out of five, and am filled with a new desire to give the video game a second chance. That, and it’s important to note that the story has a lot of heart.

Things to consider:

I would age rank this in the early teens. There are no inappropriate sexual references or foul language, but there is a considerable amount of violence that could be disturbing to some children. And being Star Wars, this would definitely appeal more towards boys, but it isn’t limited to them by any means.

Opportunities for discussion:

Much like the original Star Wars theme, this story is a great opportunity to talk to your teens about redemption. The main difference here is that, unlike Vader who turned from the force, embraced the dark side, and then came back again; Starkiller only ever knew the dark side and was raised to believe it was right. It is common today for people to think they are “good people” and to “justify” their actions based on what they believe to be right, as is what Starkiller thought, but even in this tale Juno pointed out how [Starkiller] needed to be saved. Ask your teens if they think being a “good person” in their own definition is good enough. Then share with them your thoughts on the matter.