Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Unicorns and Cats

Coville, Bruce. The Last Hunt.
Nominated for the Cybils by Beverly Wrigglesworth

As with Dark Whispers, this final volume of the Unicorn Chronicles is heavy duty fantasy stuff, and a massive 605 pages, complete with a huge appendix on characters. I have problems following plots when so many characters are involved over so many pages, but basically, the unicorn killer, Beloved (who is angry because her father was killed by a unicorn) has invaded Luster with a bunch of Hunters to do her bidding, and is about to cause the destruction of the world. However, her granddaughter (who somehow has human and unicorn blood) tries desperately to save the world and is aided by Great Powers toward this end.

Strengths: Nicely done high fantasy, this will be greatly enjoyed by students who are really into unicorns, magic and the like. The brown ink is a nice touch.
Weaknesses: The casual reader would be completely kerflummoxed by this, which is too bad, since the first two books in this series are more accesssible. I wish that Coville would write more of his shorter, funny books for middle grade readers. This verged on YA.

Diamand, Emily. Raider's Ransom.
Nominated for the Cybils by Jen Robinson

Lilly lives in a fishing community with her grandmother and a seacat, who has chosed her and is greatly coveted by the others in the community, who don't think Lilly deserves the cat even though it has chosed her. The setting at first appears to be in an English community in the mid 1800s, but is actually set in the 23rd century when ecological problems have caused much of the earth to flood. When Lilly's grandmother is killed by raiders who also kidnap the prime minister's daughter, and Lilly's town is blamed for this, Lilly decides to try to save the day by herself. She is aided by an urchin named Zeph, and the chapters alternate between the two as narrators. Lilly is helped by a "jewel" that turns out to be a computer that has survived the collapse of technology.

Strengths: The characters are likeable, the environmental message is one of which we need more, and there is a lot of adventure.

Weaknesses: The technology is inserted in a rather strange way, and the interpolation of modern phrases into the 19th century lingo is jarring. The emphasis on the importance of the cat at the beginning of the story made it difficult for me to get into the story.


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