Sunday, February 24, 2013

Program + review: beTWEEN the lines

For our January meeting, we deviated slightly from schedule, but I don't think it effected attendance very much. We normally meet the first Wednesday of the month, but the first Wednesday in January was January 2 - so we decided to postpone a week in case anyone was still off enjoying the school break. Other than this slight change in schedule, things worked pretty much as they always do. We spent about 40-45 minutes discussing our book, then we voted on our March title and handed out copies for next month. So, without further ado, our January title was:

The Candy Shop War
By Brandon Mull
Published 2007 by Shadow Mountain
Four friends find themselves in the midst of a battle of candy-creating magicians and struggle to figure out the right thing to do.

This was my first time reading Mull and I have mixed feelings about him. This book is long - over 400 pages - which is not really that long for a children's fantasy novel these days, but this one felt unnecessarily long. Bloated, even. It seemed repetitive at times and there were overly drawn out descriptions that I could have done without. Additionally, there didn't seem to be a ton of differentiation of characters - this is a story featuring four friends (three boys and a girl) and yet, for most of the time, they felt interchangeable. Occasionally, one would be described as having a special skill that the others lacked but, for the most part, they all seemed far too similar to be particularly interesting. While I like that the book offers some ambiguity in the way of who is the bad guy and who is the good guy, what I didn't enjoy was how easily the kids were swayed to one belief or the other. It was another unfortunate instance of "whoever is talking to me at the moment surely wouldn't lie and therefore I must believe everything they say." It definitely got annoying after a while. What the kids liked the most was, of course, the many different candies and the different kinds of power they could give you. It's definitely fun to imagine what you would do if you had a candy that made you weightless, or gave you super-speed. Ultimately, though, I don't think I'll be reading the sequel - I wasn't entertained enough to throw myself back in for another go-round. I'll give one of Mull's other series a try and hope to enjoy one of those more.

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