I actually think I’ve been on top of this whole reviewing books things lately, though that probably means that soon I will go back to not reviewing anything ever. Maybe I should stop talking about it in attempts to not jinx myself. Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. I’ll just like, review the book now.
Summary from Goodreads:
Thomas thinks he’s an ordinary twelve year old, but when a strange little man with gold-flecked eyes gives him an ancient text called The Book of Sorrows, the world he knows is turned upside down. Suddenly he’s faced with a secret family legacy, powers he can hardly begin to understand, and an enemy bent on destroying everything he holds dear. The more he reads and discovers, the deeper the danger to himself and the people he loves. As the race to the final showdown unfolds, Thomas must turn to trusted friends and uncertain allies as he seeks to prevent destruction at an epic scale.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my feelings on the book or my review.
“Fiction is a matter of perspective.”
For this review I’m going to revert back to my earlier style of just listing out what I really enjoyed and what I didn’t enjoy so much about this book because I feel like it will make it easier for me to express all of my thoughts and opinions than the newer review style I’ve been doing.
Here’s what I liked:
The vibe the book gave me
I know that is like a super weird introductory point, but I have no other way to describe it. You know how sometimes in book synopsis they describe the book was “x meets y” and things like that? This book seemed like a mix of the old CW show The Tomorrow People (which was trash but was my type of trash), Percy Jackson, and Harry Potter but also somewhat The Magicians Apprentice? It was weird but it reminded me of all of those things at different points and I was really into it, I actually rewatched the pilot of The Tomorrow People halfway through the book and found it was good time.
The second half of the book
The second half of this book was amazing. I was completely into it, I loved seeing Thomas train and seeing the new developments of his powers and how the magic system of this world works. I didn’t like how the main event was rushed and kind of underwhelming, but other than that this whole part of the book was top notch. If I could rate the second half of the book individually, I would give it 3.75 or 4 stars.
The way things were revealed
Until later in the book, things were revealed in clever ways. There were no info dumps (until the end), and things were revealed bit by bit via newspaper clippings, news segments, or ancient texts. It wasn’t just the normal “here is everything you need to know” as a mentor explains it to the main character, instead Thomas found out things naturally through research or his daily life which I really liked.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
The weird pacing
The first half of this book drug by, I kept checking how many pages I had left because the story just wasn’t holding my attention and I felt like nothing was really happening. Then, around page 170 or so, things started slowly happening. Then it was suddenly page 250 or so and everything was happening until it wasn’t. The pacing was just all over the place and I know I would have loved the book a lot more if it had just been the slightest bit more consistent.
The first half of the book
I feel like by this point I have hinted at this a lot, but I didn’t enjoy the first half of the book very much. There were some fun scenes here and there but overall it wasn’t a good time for me. It seemed very very repetitive and somewhat uninteresting, it was just Thomas going to school and having doodle wars and then going home and reading The Book of Sorrows and then repeat over and over again. I feel like the first 170 pages could have easily been like 40 and it wouldn’t have really cut down on anything.
The “chosen one” trope
This is definitely a personal thing, but I’m getting a little tired of the whole “the main character is the chosen one” thing. Thomas coming from an ancient line of ultra powerful magicians was cool and all but I feel like for me personally to enjoy a chosen one trope it needs to be different? I am very much aware that this is me being overly picky.
A bunch of little details (that I’m probably being way too picky about)
This section is just going to be me being overly nit picky and I am ready and prepared for me to acknowledge that. The little details scattered throughout the book concerning bullying kind of pulled me out of the story a lot. Like, there was one point where it was mentioned that first graders were stealing each others lunch money and as a person who works with kids that age quite often, I just know that is not realistic and for some reason that really got to me.
Here’s my overall thoughts:
This book was actually really really fun in the second part and when I finished it I found myself wanting the next one in a way that surprised me. I found that I wanted to keep hanging out with Thomas and Enrique for a little while longer and see what they got up to next. But that feeling was not enough to overrule the fact that I found myself bored quite often during the first half of the book. So basically? To summarize, I enjoyed this book at times and didn’t enjoy it at all at others but I would still read the sequel.