Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Trap Door (Infinity Ring #3)

McMann, Lisa. The Trap Door (Infinity Ring #3)
5 February 2013, Scholastic, Inc.
Copy received from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.

Dak, Sera and Riq have just escaped their last adventure and are ready to address the next Break. This lands them in the US in 1850, and when they seek shelter in what appears to be a Quaker household, they find that SQ has infiltrated many of the safe houses of the Underground Railroad, and slaves everywhere are in danger. Riq is assumed to be a slave and taken to be auctioned off with Kissy and her baby and young son James. Sera and Dak locate another Hystorian, and try to figure out what needs to be done to fix the Break, but Riq has an even bigger stake in this time period-- Remnants of memory are coming back to him, and he realizes that Kissy is actually an ancestor of his. If he doesn't save her, he may not exist at all. There are some technological problems along the way with the SQuare and Infinity Ring, and SQ's interference (as well as Dak's tomfoolery) don't help matters, but the trio survives and are ready for their next adventure, Curse of the Ancients by Matt de la Pena, which will be published in June.
Strengths: Lots of action, and lots of good historical facts presented in an easy-to-swallow fashion. Like the 39 Clues series, this is highly addictive series, and the online gaming component and trading cards draw in students who otherwise might not be as interested in historical fiction. I also like that different writers contribute to the series-- it's interesting to see how their styles compare and contrast.
Weaknesses: Love time travel, but have never been a fan of the "we have to fix pale history" school of books, because it was done best in Voyagers! and everything else is mimicry. Also, there were two incorrect uses of "thee"-- remember, historical fiction writers, that THOU is the subjective case, and THEE is the objective case. Instead of saying "thee does" it should be "thou dost" or "he doth". The gaming component is somewhat irritating, since I can't really let students go online to play at school, but they occasionally ask.

The Last Apprentice: Slither (Book 11) Delaney, Joseph. Slither: The Last Apprentice #11
22 January 2013, Greenwillow

From a new area of the County, Slither emerges. He is a new kind of creature who feeds on the blood of humans and animals. He has an arrangement with one of the farmers in his district, and when the man is gored by a bull and dies, Slither promises to take two of his daughters to their aunt and uncle, in exchange for having the older one, Ness, to sell to satisfy the requirement to sell a human girl into the slave trade once every 40 years. Nessa wants to save her sisters Briony and Susan, but fears for her life as a slave. Luckily, the group meets Grimalkin on their way, and the feared assassin helps them defeat a haggenbrood in the arena and also ends up saving Nessa, although Susan dies. A glossary at the back defines the many new terms that Slither brings to this story.
Strengths: My readers and I have all been waiting to see how Tom Ward's tale ends.
Weaknesses: This does not advance the plot much at all, and was just pointlessly gruesome. It didn't make any sense to add a whole new mythology to an already overly long, if intriguing, story. I was also really disturbed about the treatment of women in general in this book. The blood and gore were somewhat expected, but the extreme misogyny was not. It's bad enough that Slither has to sell a purra (human female) into slavery, but we find out that Slither's race killed ALL of their women and now breed only with humans because they thought having women of their kind made them week. There was also some incipient Stockholm syndrome thing going on with Ness and Slither that was just all kinds of creepy.

I love this series, but if I had read this book before I bought a copy for the library, I may well have skipped purchasing it altogether. It creeped me out, but not in the good way that the rest of the books did. And the new terms got REALLY annoying. And, come on, "Valkarky" ?

I liked this review at The Guardian,  which opined on the overuse of blood and gore. Hippogriff's Aerie had more positive thoughts on the book, as did Jade at Book Bitz, and Tatty's Treasure Chest.

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