Friday, July 05, 2013

A Note and a Review - The Runaway King

A lot has happened and I took a blog break. I got married! I am now Elizabeth Moreau Nicolai and am working on getting the blog transferred to my new email. After the wedding, my new husband had knee surgery (I know I got a broken model, but I don't think I can take him back). And then I went to ALA Annual. So while, I'm reading, I'm not doing a great job on reviewing. Nor am I blogging particularly about the many other library issues bubbling in my head. In July I shall settle into a more normal schedule.

To tide you over (anyone who is especially fond of my reviews), I am still posting audiobook reviews over at Goodreads. Also I put a brief review of Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, the latest offering from David Sedaris up there as well because I didn't have much to say. If you enjoy Sedaris, you'll enjoy this one. If you don't know Sedaris, start with another one of his works. Same for The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

And now let's talk about The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen. Only a few of the books from last year's Newbery readings inspired me to want to read their sequels and this is one of them. I greatly enjoyed The False Prince, perhaps it was slightly overrated by most reviewers, but it was still a fun romp.

Note if you have not read the first book DO NOT read this review. Spoilers for the first book are included.

The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen. Published in March 2013 by Scholastic. 331 pages.

Bottom Line: Enjoyable, but not as good as the first. Should be in the collections of all libraries that bought the first (which is to say most if not all medium-small and larger public libraries).

Jaron (formerly Sage) has ascended his throne and is almost immediately facing assassination attempts, advisers and a council who want to strip him of all power, and a populace who can't yet trust him. Being Jaron he deals with this in the most reckless way possible, running after the pirates and presumed assassins and away from the political infighting in the palace. There he risks life and limb to learn about friendship, kingship, the cost of power, and a few harsh truths about his family, himself, and his so called friends.

It's a fun book. However, while reading this one, I was struggling to remember who all the characters were. (That alone says something about the first one.) The characters did not have very extensive introductions so you are out of luck if you can't recall them. I did buy that Jaron would take off after the pirates; it is completely in keeping with the character developed over both books and easily the most believable part of this book.

And overall, I just didn't like this one as much. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why. Surely my fuzzy memories of characters didn't help, and the feeling that this book was just more of the same as the last one wearied me. The last one felt fresh and original. I know it isn't easy to keep that going in a sequel with the same characters in the same world, but some spark was lacking.

Yet I did enjoy the book. And my complaints are coming from a jaded old lady (to the tweens I serve I'm an old lady though at 31 I'm hardly eligible for retirement) place. The tweens who enjoyed the first one will love this. Despite being on a similar reading level to Percy Jackson it reads as slightly more mature and is a great transition choice for those going from juvenile literature who are not quite ready for the scary world of YA.

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