Monday, August 12, 2013

"You wouldn't want to be king of my country." "Why is that?" "Well, you're rather fat. I doubt you'd fit into my throne."

 Wherein Jack reviews middle books

 I love reading trilogies, they have a nice balance to them as far as series are concerned. Not too long, and they don't leave you wanting for more like books with just one squeal sometimes does. But I guess I do have one complaint as far as trilogies go, though it is my own fault.
 I never seem to enjoy the middle books as much as the first and last ones. This happens in almost every trilogy I've ever read. (The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars - even though this trilogy I watched - The Crown and Covenant books, Pirates of the Caribbean movies {I don't count the forth movie.} and so on.) Middle books just don't interest me as much.

 I think it is because the middle book is the tie. In the first book we get to know the characters. We see them in their innocent state before their world is twisted out of shape. We get to have fun with them and laugh and go on an adventure. The last book we see them at their completion. They've become the hero we knew they would. They are facing their greatest danger and usually there is a great big battle to end it all on. But the middle, they are in between. There has to be the things which tie the first plot into the last plot. Usually there is politics talked about and we see the heroes struggles as he is faced with the question of if he wishes to go on or not. No longer is he the innocent, carefree boy, but neither he is the dashing hero who will later steal our hearts. 
 So, in short, the middle of the story has never been my favourite part. I know it is needed, I always read or watch them, but they aren't the parts that stick out in my mind. That make me love the story and return to it over and over again. No, I always go back for the beginning and ending.

 This has kind of happened with all the middle books I've read over the summer. (And I am going to review them all at once because I'm not going into long reviews. Just kind of over looks and things I liked so I don't give any spoilers away about the first books. So, these are safe reviews to read.) Just keep in mind, my thoughts about middle books. While I enjoyed these stories, they're not sticking in my mind as much as the first books.

 Also, I feel the need to note here that, as an author, I know how hard it is to write middle books. Connecting everything is hard. It is hard to bring about the change in the characters while still keeping them the same character the reader has come to love. Taking the lovable - say - farm boy from book one and making him into the universe saving hero is hard enough on its own. But making sure he keeps some of his endearing qualities that made us love him in the first place can at times be next to impossible. So, even though I might not like them as much, I still admire authors who pull them off well.

 First on my list is The Destiny of a Few, book two in the Destiny trilogy written by Sarah Holman. I really loved book one of this series, I think mostly because of Quint. (Okay, yes, I kind of really, really like pilots. A lot.) But the plot was also really good and a lot of fun.
 Book two continues the plot from book one and we get to meet some new characters. One character I wanted to strangle through most of the book, but by the end I took a liking to her. Another character seemed irrationally angry about - nothing - but by the end of the book I felt I better understood him.
 Basically, this is a book where you have to give the characters a chance and can't let your first impression fix how you will think of them for the rest of the series.
 The plot was fun and exciting, with more danger than the first one. The reader gets a better chance of seeing more of this world Miss Holman has created and it left me wanting to read the last book.

 Predator's Gold, Book two in the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve
 I am a huge fan of Mr. Reeve. "I'm sorry, in what way do you resemble a means of keeping a person cool?" And while this is part of a three book series, not a trilogy, it is book two, so I am reviewing it with all the other book twos.
 This is a continuation of the book, Mortal Engines (a story about cities that eat each other and the boy who is unfortunate enough to get caught in the middle of a political...something or other.)
 Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw are back - I know, a dorky movie line, but I couldn't resist. This book starts about two years after book one ends and follows Tom and Hester's newest adventure as they travel through a world which has little regard for human life.
 I don't think I liked this book as much...no, I didn't like it as much as the first...but this time it wasn't because of my middle book issue. Actually, it is something I think needs to be warned about so, I shall spill a tiny spoiler.
 In the book, Tom and Hester share the same bed. (They don't actually do anything I don't think - it never implies it till the end of the book - but it does say they sleep in the same bed together.) I was thankful that, when something did happen, it wasn't even described. All the reader knows is that they kissed and they find out the rest later by other means.
 I didn't really like that this was added and think the story could have done without it. I believe the reason it was added though was to show how much the world had changed. This was just a way of life to them - but still, I would have liked the story more without it.
 That aside, the plot was still cool and I plan on finishing the series.

 A Hero for WondLa, Book Two in the WondLa series by Tony DiTerlizzi
 Those who were around when I reviewed book one know I LOVED it. I've been dying to get my hands on this book since I finished book one, but I was making myself wait till it went to paperback because it fits more into my lack of money budget. When I found it at the book store I snatched it up from the kid's section in front of a mum and dad reading to their little kids. Grinning insanely, I cuddled it like it was pure gold and walked away giggling to myself. When I wasn't kicked out of the store for insanity I carried it home and devoured it after forcing myself to finish other books on my to-read list.
 It did have second book traits, but it still had Rovee, and therefore, I was happy. (I've come to accept the fact that while I like Eva a lot, and I love the world in which the books are set, and they are a lot of fun, I REALLY love Rovee. He's kind of like Obi Wan, even down to his dislike of flying.)
 There was a bit of whining from Eva in the book, but the reader I think has to remember she is just 12 and her whole world has been turned upside down and she is facing things which would faze an adult. A little whining every now and then is to be expected.
 Also, the book does deal with drinking issues as Rovee is considered a drunk. Just something to keep in mind.

 The Invaders book two in the Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan
 I really liked Mr. Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series. This one, while I like it, has not surpassed that series - at least not in my mind. I've a friend who might disagree, but she loves ships and I love Rangers.
 It takes me awhile to get through Mr. Flanagan's books because he does add a lot in them that could be left out - but, the story is well worth it so I don't complain too much because I usually am having too much fun in this world he has created.
 Hal and his shipmates are - well, doing something I cannot even mention as it would give away the end of book one. But they are having adventures, and sailing, and doing all kinds of fun things. And all of them are there, being their cool selves, and if you haven't read this series yet you should - even if Will and Halt aren't in it 8-(

 Courage book two in the Makilien Trilogy by Molly Evangeline
 I loved book one and book two did not disappoint. The battles were darker in this one and the story not as - "Let's go on an adventure" type, but I still loved it. Be warned though, as happens in book twos a bit too often it did end on a cliff hanger, so have book three ready. You will want it.

 The Runaway King, Book two in the Ascendance by Jennifer Nielsen
 Okay, so everything I said about me and second books, forget it with this book. Like book one, I read this in about two days, and when I finished it I almost started over to console myself for the fact book three won't be out till March. (Cliff hanger ending? Of course.)
 This book had a bit more action than the first one though I think both were the same pace. We get to see a side of Sage he kept well hidden in book one, a more caring, worried side though he was still the same Sage in book one - always making some kind of joke while facing danger. (I think that is one of the things I love best about him. He might be scared out of his boots but he never gives his enemies the satisfaction of knowing that. And he is never at a loss with a witty comeback.)
 If you haven't read these books you need to do so, now.

 And that is the end of my list. Cookies to anyone who made it all the way through!

 Quote is from The Runaway King.

 Allons-y!

Photobucket

7 comments :

  1. I sometimes have a hard time with the middle book too, especially if its a trilogy. If there are three books but they are companions rather than a trilogy, or just sequels, I don't have so much of a problem. However, I just re-read Lord of the Rings, and The Two Towers didn't hold me up at all. I roared right through it. Another "middle" book that never holds me back is Heir of Sea And Fire, which is the second book in the Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy by Patricia McKillip.

    I have read a couple books by Philip Reeve. I enjoy his writing style, but for some reason I can't get into his books. I always read the first book, and stop. The only books of his that I got entirely through the trilogy were his Larklight books - Larklight, Starcross, Mothstorm - and they are adorable. I really enjoyed all three of those.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, me too! A lot of the time the middle book is just sort of... hey ho. (Of course, there are some with cliffhangers that are just cruel, you know.)

    I went on a Ranger's Apprentice spree a few years back. Mahri put it perfectly, though. John Flanagan is a good STORY teller. His writing could use a little touching up and editing. I liked the first three the best, when Will was still the Ranger's APPRENTICE, but they other ones were pretty good too.

    *bows gracefully and accepts cookies*

    Bye!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I always have trouble with middle books as well...especially if I loved the first book! I'm usually really excited to read them, but then there's always that, "what if it's not as good as the first one? Maybe I should just leave it at the first book so the middle book doesn't ruin the series for me..." Haha. But there have been many good middle books for me, and some...not so good. I'm glad for your list of good middle books! I'll have to look those up.(: As soon as I finish the mountains of books on my shelves that I have yet to read...(;

    ~Vicki
    Decked Out in Ruffles

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's a neat way of thinking of trilogies! I'm trying to recall any middle books I didn't like as much... Lord of the Rings doesn't count cos I read them all at once with no breaks - it's all one book! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have not read any of those... and my to-be-read pile just got a bit larger.

    I actually find that I tend to favor the middle book in a trilogy. My favorite LOTR? Two Towers. My favorite Star Wars movie: Empire Strikes Back. It's not a guarantee, but I love that part of the story where we're out of the "back-story" mode and into the actual adventure. I feel that first books tend to wander a bit - they struggle to keep my attention because I know that all the cool stuff is going to show up in the next book, but I have to slog through the packing and the deciding whether or not to go on the journey in the first place bits so that I understand the character once they get down to the actual quest/journey/running for their lives bit of the story.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very interesting post, Jack! I enjoyed reading it! And nice mini-reviews too.
    It's strange that so many people (I'm reading the other comments) have problems with middle books/movies.... The middle books tend to be my favorites. I totally agree with Jenelle Leanne above me. I like the Two Towers movie the best, I think... Although the book... well, it took me a year to get through so I don't know. xD But then, my favorite Star Wars is the middle one (in both of the trilogies, actually). And then my favorite Larklight book is the middle one because of the little hat-creatures. Actually, now that I think of it, rarely is the first book my favorite. I usually prefer the second or third. My favorites in the Leviathan series and Penderwicks series are the third books, I think. Although the first Penderwicks is very, very good too. What is your opinion on third books?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hehehe! I'm usually the same with the second book thing. The Two Towers was so hard for me to get through!
    The only series where the second book was better than the first (And the third better than the second, perhaps) is the King of Atollia series...at least in my opinion. :)

    I actually prefer the type of series where each book is sort of complete in itself. The stories that just keep going continuously start to loose me. I'm not sure why.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete

Do you want to leave a comment? Come on, it will be fun. I want to get to know you and know why you stopped by my site. Don't worry if you don't know what to say, I will reply with something fun. Do you want to leave a comment? It doesn't have to be a long one.