Friday, July 31, 2015

Emelia's Review of The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass took forever for me to finish, but I had to read it all; it is so convincing, original and addicting to read.

Monday, July 27, 2015

GadgetJax Reviews: The Lightning Catcher series by Anne Cameron

It's almost the end of the Summer, and I spent a good chunk of it reading. Of course, if I'm going to invest my time in lots of reading, I should make sure that the book I select is good, right?
Well, we're reviewing The Lightning Catcher. Don't let the title of the book fool you; The Lightning Catcher has no affiliation with the Percy Jackson franchise. Sadly, I can't really say that The Lightning Catcher holds up to the epic title it has, but that's what we're reviewing it for, right?

The story begins with our main character, Angus McFangus, an average boy (not actually average) that lives in a little town with his uncle, all while his parents are gone on business trips(not actually business trips).
One day, a man named Felix Gudgeon visits Angus, telling him that he must come with him to a place called Perilous, where the 'Lightning Catchers' conduct their training academy. Angus eventually learns that his parents are Lightning Catchers as well, and that they've been captured by Scabious Dankhart.
Yes, that's his name. I don't know if he's into those kinds of memes, but we'll just roll with it for now.
So, Angus goes to Perilous and he trains to become a Lightning Catcher. Along the way, he makes friends with 2 other students there; Dougal Dewsnap and Indigo Midnight. Dougal is your stereotypical sidekick character that is a mix between 'The Brains' and 'The Brawn', while Indigo is the most boring character imaginable. The only 2 redeeming things about her character design are that A) She's the most shy character you'll ever meet in any story ever and B) Her uncle is actually Scabious Dankhart, which is kind of confusing at first.
...and this leads me to the biggest issue in The Lightning Catcher and all of the other titles in the franchise: They are so darn OBVIOUS! Every character is as boring as a plank of wood. For example, the primary leader of Perilous is a lady named 'Principal Dark-Angel', who (surprise surprise) eventually turns out to be in cahoots with Dankmeme- sorry, I meant Dankhart.
I would go out and say that the best character in the entire franchise is Felix Gudgeon, and that's only because he's a naturally upset guy that slowly starts trusting Angus after time. Everyone else is 'The dumb guy', 'The smart guy', 'The athletic guy', 'the bossy guy', or whatever is commonly used nowadays.
Characters aside, the rest of the book is just as barren. The whole theme of the story is supposed to be about the Lightning Catchers and how awesome they are, but trust me when I say that 60% of the chapters in this story involve the characters just trying to EXPLAIN everything. This book is too big for its own good, and it shows because of how many times that they have to explain how their crazy Fiction world actually works. Muderous Fog? Let's spend 7 pages just explaining it! Backstory about a character that will never appear again? Takes up an entire chapter!
Because of all this stuff that it tries to pack in, it leaves very little room for action portions. All 3 of the books follow a similar pattern where Angus, Dougal, and Indigo find out something about the histry of Perilous, and they have to find out before Dankjoke does. The first 85% is them doing whatever the book needs them to do in order to buy time, and the last 15% is their encounter with Danklegs. To be fair, though, the third book mixes this up by adding a lot more depth to everything, but the story still ends on a cliffhanger...
...and that's what gets me so mad at this franchise. Every book in the series ends on a cliffhanger, and you might think that it would be cool for something like that to happen, but no. The last 10 pages of every book could be summed up as 'Hey man, thanks for helping us out. We haven't found your parents yet, but we're still looking. Go back to your hometown and we'll call you back here when we write the next sequel'.

So, that's how I spent my Summer Reading segment. Did I like The Lightning Catcher and all the sequels? No, I didn't, but I do think that the author needs to iron out the next installment. The atmosphere of the books are really unique and invigorating, but the story itself is always barren and boring, so the writer doesn't get to make use of all the little quirks and oddities that come with such a vast field of creativity. I'm dearly hoping the 4th book fixes all these problems and then some, but as it stands, there are much better books to read than The Lightning Catcher.