Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: Across the Great Barrier - Patricia C. Wrede

Across the Great Barrier by Patricia C. Wrede
Series: Frontier Magic Trilogy #2
Genre: YA, alternate history, alternate reality, fantasy
Published on August 1, 2011
Published by Scholastic Press
Pages: 339
Read From: 8.3.13 - 8.8.13

Eff could be a powerful magician if she wanted to. Except she's not sure she wants that kind of responsibility. Everyone keeps waiting for her to do something amazing - or to fail in a spectacular way. Worse, her twin brother, Lan, a powerful double seventh son, is jealous of all the attention she's been getting. 
Even as Eff protests that she's just an ordinary girl, she's asked to travel past the Barrier Spell with one of the new professors at her father's school. The land west of the Barrier is full of dangers, both magical and wild. Eff will need to use all her strength - magical and otherwise - to come safely back home.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Despite the character impersonator, I rather do like the cover. I like the colors and the title font, and the girl even looks a bit like how I imagine Eff. Still wish it didn't stare at me, though . . .

Characters: All of the characters remain as steadfastly strong and practical and intelligent as in Thirteenth Child. Eff doesn't lose any of that as she matures, and her relationship with her siblings - even Lan - remains strong. I was worried when the synopsis said Lan felt jealous of Eff; I don't like it when close twins turn on each other for silly reasons such as jealousy. However, some of the new characters are so rapidly introduced and then disappear that I didn't get much of a chance to form attachments to them.

The Romance: There isn't any, though I still suspect a future romantic attachment between William and Eff. Which I would be fine with, honestly. I like Eff and William, and they seem very suited to one another.

Plot: I had hoped that the plot of Across the Great Barrier would abandon Book One's meandering, life-goes-on pace. With Eff heading out into the wilds, past the Barrier and into dangerous territory, I imagined that quite a few interesting and exciting things could happen. But the truth is Across the Great Barrier is as slow as Thirteenth Child. There are a few perilous incidents, but they are got over relatively quickly. For a while Eff has strange and ominous dreams that promised a deeper and stronger main plot, and whether these surface in the final book is still a possibility. However, I don't think they will - just a gut feeling, - and in any case, they didn't at all in this one. Now don't get me wrong - I find Eff's frontier world intriguing and very engaging. It is very well developed and filled with fascinating creatures. But I grew more than a little bored with the nature walk; I would have liked to see a lot more of a major plot, and even a villain.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. I liked it well enough, except I wish the Author had gone more into depth with some events. Rather than just telling us what happened in a cursory fashion, add more dialogue, more depth.

Content: None.

Conclusion: As with Thirteenth Child, most of the action is in the climax, which is all excitement and edge-of-your-seat peril. But like everything else in this book, it's also rather short-lived and over before you know it. Across the Great Barrier is totally dependent on the Reader appreciating the Author's world building. If you don't enjoy that, then you will find this book excruciatingly boring. I did like the world building, though even that couldn't keep me from wishing for a plot and a villain.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fourteen-and-up, great for alternate-history and historical fantasy fans.

Others in the Frontier Magic Trilogy:
1)Thirteenth Child
2)Across the Great Barrier
3)The Far West

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