Archive for : January, 2016

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The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman – A Review

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This book is the end of a trilogy focused on a secret and magical land and the story of love and thrilling exploits by the main character, Quentin Coldwater. Coldwater has been thrown out of the land where he had access as a child. Since this occurred, he is attempting to re-enter his life previous to his escape to that land. While attempting to recapture his life, he sets off on a journey and visits favorite locations of old. Coldwater is challenged to save both the real world and his fantasy land when he is given an opportunity to create a new fantasy land, but that opportunity puts both other worlds in jeopardy.

Readers felt conflicted. Some enjoyed the conclusion to the trilogy and yet were sad to see such a strong, well-written saga come to an end. Others saw situations set up in the two previous books that were not addressed or resolved in this work. This was irritating, since the resolution of the series was a disappointment compared to what they thought could have been if those threads of story were resolved.

The incorporation of religious themes into this work was not well-received, because they detract from the storyline and do not provide any reasonable explanation for being involved in the story at large. Still, the work has some strength and admirable comparisons to other works that incorporated religion, like the Narnia saga.

The way the main character progresses and matures, his astute handling of being thrown out of the magical land and his attempts to re-enter his life and get things moving forward are all admirable aspects of this storyline. The reader enjoys following Coldwater’s transition and being privy to his decisions as he is faced with the new opportunity and then tasked to save both Earth and his fantasy land when they opportunity has long-reaching negative consequences.

The trilogy as a whole was considered to have a very strong start, with the second book losing readers at certain points. However, this work as the conclusion starts out a bit slow and then finishes strong, making the entire trilogy worth reading as you get to see the ending you hoped for and expected for Quentin Coldwater, with some intriguing twists and turns before he gets there.

The book sends the reader through a wide range of emotions and keeps you guessing as you follow Coldwater on his series of adventures (and misadventures). The work does remind the reader of other similar works in the religious fiction genre. Still, Grossman manages to create characters and imagine possibilities that the other works did not quite attempt, so it is a new take on a previously done fantasy storyline. It is engaging and entertaining, and it makes the reader think and wonder since it does carry remarkable similarities to the real world.

It is to be noted there is a lot of killing in this work, so it may not be exactly what you are looking for if you hoped for light-hearted fantasy. Still, it is an engaging read and worth the time, particularly if you have been with this saga from the beginning.

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El Deafo by Cece Bell – A Review

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This book is a graphic novel memoir set to share the trials and struggles of the author, who had a bulky hearing aid and had to attempt to navigate the tricky turmoil of school and making new friends while strapped into a device that garnered attention and kept her in a category all her own. This is never a good thing when attending a new school and attempting to fit in.

Bell’s writing shares her experiences with the Phonic Ear, where she hears a lot and wishes she missed out on a good part of what she catches. She is forced to try to balance her hearing issues with her desire to make a new friend that she can share things with. She is forced to find her strengths and her place in the world. She does manage this, once she manages to work with her hearing aid and use it to her advantage.

Readers found the work to be a great read, as Bell stayed likable while addressing a tough situation and definitely became an accurate spokesperson for those who struggle with being deaf in a hearing world. The fact that being deaf is the secondary factor in this book, however, is what sells it. It shows you how everyone can relate on the same subjects at a certain age (boys, friends, school issues) and reminds you that people are people regardless of their hearing abilities or lack thereof.

The work definitely has the elements it needs to engage the reader, resulting in empathy and yet still providing some entertainment even with the serious and semi-serious topics it addresses. The artwork is a great delivery method for the work, as it shows speech bubbles for someone who has hearing issues.

The book is easy to read for various ages and can be considered a great way to show younger readers both the fact that everyone faces certain problems while some have more to deal with on top of those universal issues and also the idea that issues can be overcome with perseverance and understanding. The book has been introduced to younger readers, who appreciated the way it was written and were successful in understanding the intent behind the writing. Bell does a great job of presenting the work in such a way that both young readers and adults can find enjoyment in the reading.