Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review: Evil Star - Anthony Horowitz

Evil Star by Anthony Horowitz
Series: The Gatekeepers #2
Genre: Middle Grade, horror, thriller
Published on June 1, 2006
Published by Scholastic Press
Pages: 320
Read From: 4.12.13 - 4.17.13










SYNOPSIS
Matt thought his troubles were over when he closed Raven's Gate. . . .but, in fact, they were just beginning. Evil forces will stop at nothing to track him down and destroy him. There's no choice but to fight back. 
Matt's fate - and the fate of the world - is tied to four other kids across the globe. The second is a street kid in Peru. He and Matt have never met; they don't even speak the same language. But destiny is going to throw them together as the threat of the Old Ones grows, a strange and insidious villain beckons, and another Gate suddenly comes into play. . . .

Review

Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I like the Nazca Line in the background, and all of the creepy green lights, but I don't like the dude staring me out of countenance. If that's supposed to be Matt, it's ruining my opinion of him.

Characters: My thoughts on Matt, the protagonist, haven't changed since Raven's Gate: I feel incredibly sorry for him, as he's propelled from one bad situation into another. He's totally a victim, but he still tries to fight. I looked forward to getting to know Richard Cole, Matt's guardian, better in Evil Star, but he wasn't in it enough for me to feel like I know him beyond his usual cynicism and need to protect Matt. I think he'll be a good character as the series progresses, though. I also didn't feel like I got to know Pedro all that well, either. Maybe it was the language barrier between him and Matt, or the fact that the Author just didn't mention Pedro's reactions very often. I didn't dislike Pedro at all, but I didn't connect with him much, and I hope that changes as the series progresses, because I sense that he has it in him to be an awesome character. And then there's the villain, Salamanda. He wasn't in the book much, and the times that he was, there was nothing especially scary or intimidating about him. Like all villains in stories like this one, Salamanda had something physically wrong with him, which the Author used to try and make him creepier, but it didn't work, and Salamanda ended up being a very forgettable baddie.

The Romance: There isn't any!

Plot: Ever since closing Raven's Gate, Matt has tried to get on with a normal life. He now lives with Richard Cole and attends an exclusive school. But Matt isn't getting on at the school, the Nexus need his help, and then his aunt Gwenda shows up with a petrol tanker and blows the whole campus up, in an attempt to kill Matt (clearly Gwenda has lost her mind). Matt realizes that whether he likes it or not, he's part of darker events, and so he decides to do what the Nexus asks: obtain an ancient journal that tells about a second gate in Peru. But the man who owns the journal is intercepted by enemies, and soon it becomes a race against time to get to Peru, find the second gate, and close it before the Old Ones can be released. But when Matt and Richard arrive in Peru, they're attacked, Richard is captured, and Matt finds himself alone in Lima, with only a mysterious Peruvian street boy to help him. While Evil Star begins in a classic horror movie style - an evil being ordering Gwenda to kill Matt, - the rest of the book feels more like an Indiana Jones-like adventure, and therefore much less creepy than Raven's Gate. Once I realized that I wasn't in for another round of spooky villagers, grisly deaths, and strange rituals, I easily settled into the story's pace and enjoyed it. I loved that the Nazca Lines ended up being an elaborate celestial combination lock that kept the second gate closed, and the identity of the Nexus traitor took me longer to figure out than I thought it would. Once I did, though, it was very obvious, but it still worked. The Author doesn't reveal the traitor's identity until the climax of the book, lending some mystery and suspense to the whole story.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Like all of Horowitz's books, the writing is very action-packed and movie-ish, and as with all of his books, it works well enough. His descriptions of Peru paint a clear picture for Readers, though I must complain about the fact that he's not very good at picking original names. How many times has Rodriguez and Pedro been used?

Content: The violence is significantly less in Evil Star, as is the demonic undertones and imagery.

Conclusion: The gate is opening; Matt is running out of time. In order to stop Salamanda, they have to storm his fortified headquarters. With a climax like that, I was expecting something long and ridiculous and dragged out to its absolute limit. Surprisingly, it isn't, and the final showdown between Matt and Salamanda is even shorter, to a point where it's almost disappointing. But the sequel should be interesting. Evil Star was a good second installment; well-paced, a different feel to the first book, and lots of development to the overall series plot. I would have liked to see more character development, but there's room for that in other books.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, fourteen-and-up, great for fans of Anthony Horowitz and thriller/horror stories.

Others in The Gatekeepers Series:
1)Raven's Gate
2)Evil Star
3)Nightrise
4)Necropolis
5)Oblivion

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