Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Fablehaven Series Part 2

After finishing the first two books, I read the final three volumes in the Fablehaven series rapidly. Volume 3, Grip of the Shadow Plague, is a great book. Fablehaven is plagued by the spread of darkness, which turns the good creatures into evil creatures. The plot is harrowing, and this is the best book in the series.

In volume 4, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, one of the major characters betrays the rest. These books were not crafted as well as series such as Harry Potter and Nicholas Flamel, so the author gives few clues to the betrayal. For that reason, the betrayal is intensely shocking, to the point that I thought it was a joke at first. I paused in utter disbelief, and then continued. The entire passage has an unreal feeling which leaves the reader not feeling as much loss as should be felt.

Also in volume 4, a character is believed to be dead during part of the book, and the way the death and following events are handled are quite lacking.

In volume 5, Keys to the Demon Prison, the bad guys are getting close to opening up the demon prison and taking control of the world. As in the previous volume, Kendra, Seth, and their companions go after an artifact in order to keep it out of the hands of their adversaries. We get a character or two killed in the process, but the reader feels no loss.

This is because the evil characters are described much better than the good characters. Most of the good characters are given a name with little physical description and no information other than the fact that they are supposedly a trusted ally. Some of them end up not trustworthy or dead, but neither is a big deal to the reader since they all blend together.

These books tend to ignore characterization in favor of lots of nonstop action. I would have preferred far less action with a good bit more characterization.

In volume five, the good side attempts to prevent the opening of the demon prison. They come up with a plan, which I could see right off was flawed. I was not surprised when trouble arose from where I expected. Furthermore, Seth made an extremely stupid decision which made me want to quit reading. An adult character also made a stupid decision, and the adults are supposedly very experienced. I can understand Seth being stupid, but not the adults who have been fighting evil for decades.

The stupid decisions were simply the manner the author chose in order to set up the circumstances for the great final battle. The story was not bad after the stupid decisions had been made, thus giving the bad guys the upper hand. It could have been accomplished better.

I can hardly separate the events of books four and five in my mind, since both books are crammed full of nonstop action. In several parts of the fifth book, my mind began to wander, as I read the words. That is not a good sign. Both books consist of endless monsters, demons, and dragons attacking. As soon as one was defeated, two or three more would arrive. I grew weary of it.

The writing generally improved through the five books, but in the fifth book, the author took a step backwards at times. I have two examples, but I cannot give the exact pages since the Kindle version does not display the exact pages. In the chapter entitled "Vasilis," the faces on the totem pole are described as follows.
Some looked friendly, others furious, others wise, others ridiculous, others crafty, others ill, others smug, others frightened, others serene.
The following passage appears in the chapter "Knights of the Dawn."
Some walked on two legs, some on four, some on six. Others slithered. Others jumped. Others rolled. Others had wings.
I have now mastered the word "others" and can understand two-word sentences. To be fair, most passages are not written like the above examples. These two are the ones that stand out the most. The books do have complex sentences.

The series would have been stronger if books four and five had been condensed into one book with many of the battles removed. The characters deserved better descriptions. In spite of those flaws, I did enjoy the series. I loved the setting at the Fablehaven preserve and found the magical creatures to be very interesting. Most importantly, the series helped me quench my desire for the final Nicholas Flamel book. I can now wait nearly a year for it, and shortly, I will return to my usual vintage series books.


Anonymous said...

Jennifer, have you ever read The Mysterious Benedict Society? It's a little more Roald Dahl than Harry Potter, but the main characters are very well done, and the puzzle-type plot is clever and suspenseful. It's my favorite series book read this year.

Jennifer White said...

I have not read that book, although I have heard of it. Since I am now purchasing books for my iPad with the distinct advantage that they take up no space, I will definitely consider purchasing it. Thanks for the tip! It can be really hard to know which of the current books are worth reading.