Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: Story's End - Marissa Burt

Story's End by Marissa Burt
Series: Storybound #2
Genre: Middle Grade, fantasy
Published on April 2, 2013
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 416
Read From: 8.21.13 - 8.28.13

Long ago, a King ruled the land of Story. . . .During his reign, Heroes, Villains, and characters of all kinds lived out new Tales filled with daring quests and epic struggles. 
Then the King disappeared, and over the years, nearly everyone forgot that he had ever existed. Now an evil Enemy has emerged, determined to write a new future for Story that he will control. And an ordinary girl named Una Fairchild is inextricably tangled up in his deadly plan. 
Una and her friends Peter and Indy are desperate to find a way to defeat the Enemy. But Una soon discovers that the real key may lie in her own mysterious ties to Story's past - and to the long-forgotten King, who could be Story's only hope for survival.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I like it well enough. It's exciting and pretty and definitely echoes the classic storybook feel. And you can't see the character impersonators very well!

Characters: Una Fairchild actually isn't in Story's End that much. There are now multiple protagonists that we follow, and Una isn't given as much attention as others. Even so, I still liked her. She isn't as snippy towards Peter as she was in Storybound, and she still displays a healthy dose of curiosity and intelligence. Peter got a bit on my nerves whenever he started acting all jealous of Indy and became pouty and even a bit whiny, but those little episodes are thankfully short-lived as well. As I predicted, Snow makes her peace with Una and becomes a surprisingly helpful character. And though she continues to be at odds with her mother for over half of the book (which did get old), I still managed to like Snow a lot. It's always hard to take a character the Reader has spent so long hating and then making them likable. I'm happy to say that Marissa Burt pulled it off. Sam the talking cat wasn't nearly in Story's End enough; he was practically nonexistent, which I was very sad to discover. But the appearance of a new character - Kai - made up for my disappointment. Sometimes there are characters that just hit me the right way, and Kai was no exception. I loved him the moment he appeared, and I desperately hoped that he would actually turn out to be trustworthy. Confident and cheeky (without being a flirt), Kai brought a lot to the overall story, and I found myself most reading for his sake. New character crush? Possibly. :-) The villains - Fidelus and Duessa - are another matter. Duessa was a surprisingly good villainness - and villainnesses are extremely difficult to pull off. She seemed capable and truly cold-hearted. Fidelus, too, seemed genuinely cold-hearted and didn't monologue too much. However, there were plenty of times when the two, together, were a bit more cliche than I like, and Fidelus was too impatient. Impatience is a bad flaw in a villain. The scariest villains always have the most remarkable amount of patience.

The Romance: There isn't any!

Plot: Una has unwittingly unleashed Fidelus - the Muse who turned evil and caused the Unbinding. He now has his heart set on crowning himself King and rewriting Story for himself and the Taleless. To do so, he must possess the Three Elements: the quill, ink, and parchment that were originally used to bring the Muses and Story into being. Together, Una and the Resistance must build an army to defeat the Enemy and the Red Enchantress, and find the Elements before they do. Or all of Story will be lost before the True King can return and reclaim his throne. A more straight-forward storyline than Storybound, and yet it felt much more complicated. We are following three separate plots: Snow and her mother's, Peter and Indy, and then Una. It's not necessarily confusing, but it does give the story the feeling that a lot is happening all at once. And sometimes the jumping around from one narrative to another can be a bit confusing, because the Author doesn't always explain how much time has passed between what's happening to Peter, and what's happening to the narration we're now following. This especially becomes an issue at the climax. Overall, though, the plot itself is interesting - and far darker than I was anticipating. Characters are being slaughtered and tortured, and others are being given to the Taleless so they can finally have mortal bodies. Naturally, the Taleless look something like zombies when they take over a body, because every story needs zombies, right? (Sarcasm.) I still love the concept of Story and find it a fascinating world. But the whole rebellion felt a bit rushed and squeezed in. Like maybe there ought to have been a third book? There were also a few instances that felt too convenient. Nothing hugely mortifying to the plot itself; mostly tiny things, but it was still there. And it could have just been me. I was temporarily worried that Una would spend the majority of the book agonizing over the identity of her parents, like all protagonists seem to do when they find out Dear Old Dad and/or Dearest Mama aren't as nice as they imagined. Thankfully, though, she really doesn't. At least, she isn't very vocal about it. There's concern and shame alright, but it isn't focused on too much.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. There are three main characters we follow: Snow, Una, and Peter. It was interesting to have several different perspectives, whereas in Story's End, we mostly just followed Una. But it also didn't give me as much of a chance to get to know the characters better, for which I was very sad. I always like to get to know characters more. The writing style is still nothing special, but it isn't bad and it fits the intended age of the audience.

Content: Nothing, other than some rather scary imagery that might be a bit disturbing for younger Readers. Zombies, dripping blood, wounds inflicted by torture (no serious details, though), and an overall ambiance of dark magic are some of the scary imagery.

Conclusion: Here is where Story's End began to fall down just a bit. The Resistance is ready to march upon Duessa and Fidelus, and either defeat them or die trying. It's all very noble and self-sacrificing; I love stories with an army marching into impossible odds (I love it even more when they realistically lose). For a moment, it even looks like that exact thing might happen! And then suddenly characters are popping up, Una conveniently finds the thing that will undo Fidelus, Snow is off wandering the castle passages and then she's suddenly in the midst of battle, and Fidelus and the King are locked in an epic battle that is rather difficult to follow. Suddenly reinforcements that I had no idea the Resistance had are showing up and . . . . it's all a bit confusing and rushed. The overall concept was good, but too much was going on all at once with very few effective transitions. And then it just kind of ends. This two-book series really could have used a third installment. I still liked Story's End and I think it is a great little series for Middle Graders. But it also had its imperfections that could have easily been fixed by making this a trilogy. Events were just a bit too rushed. Still, it isn't even close to the worst Summer Read that you could pick up.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, nine-and-up, great for fans of Harry Potter (just don't expect it to be nearly as epic) and Inkheart, and fantasy.

Others in This Series:
2)Story's End

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting The Reading Hedgehog! The hedgie and I love hearing from our readers, so please feel free to leave a comment or question! I always try to reply within a day or two. Please keep all comments civil and clean.