Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Review - Stone Voice Rising C. Lee Tocci (3/5 stars)

I borrowed this book from a friend.  It sounded like an interesting fantasy story and I thought I would give it a read.  Overall it was an okay story.  Parts of it are very flawed, yet it is an intriguing idea.  This book is definitely not a stand alone and seems to be mostly setting things up for the next book.

The book starts by going back and forth between the viewpoints of 6 year old Lilibit and 8 year old Todd.  Lilibit can talk to stones and use them for magic.  Todd can talk to birds and is very different from all children his age.  After a short part of the story at these ages, 5 years pass.  Now the story is mostly from Todd's viewpoint and, when Lilibit enters the story she is a tortured/diminished soul.  Things are not all well in the world and it will be up to Lilibit, Todd and their friends to save things.

As I mentioned the initial part of the story takes place 5 years before the rest of it.  After the 5 years pass, the story starts out mainly being told from Todd's point of view.  Then the point of view switches willy-nilly as we hear from all of the different characters.  This can get a bit confusing because it isn't always immediately apparant whose viewpoint we are hearing from.

The characters are okay, not all that engaging but they all have interesting backgrounds.  The characters become more interesting as different stones claim them and lend them power.  This book is mostly an adventure/fantasy type of story as the kids leave on a quest to find Lilibit's Kiva.  But, it takes a while to get to the journey point.  The setting itself is awkward because it takes place in the modern day world; yet there is this sub culture of stone speakers and Stone warriors.  You are not ever really sure how this sub-culture interacts with the rest of the world.

I question this story as a children's book because of the violence that happens to Lilibit.  They basically explain that she has been operated on without anesthesia and tortured everyday for 5 years, she has also been killed and rehabilitated and number of times.  To be honest the whole concept was uncomfortable to me as an adult and definitely not something I would read to a child.  It was weird because outside of this part the book would have been great to read to children, but since this background is so central to the story I would have to recommend this to older young adults.

The high point of this novel is the interesting way Tocci deals with magic.  The stones are magical and have personalities all of their own.  This is a very creative and interesting premise.  Unfortunately Tocci never really explains how any of it works.  Tocci also kind of throws in new humanoid races whenever it is convenient; they are never explained or seem all that well planned.  Further books in the series might make the whole story seemed a bit more put together.

The writing style is okay.  For the most part it is very readable, but occasionally it is a bit halting and is a struggle to get through.  This whole book is about setting up the story, so the pacing is a bit slow at times and the story a bit boring.  I wouldn't recommend this book to reluctant readers, but it could be a good read for young adult fantasy fans out there.  The book doesn't resolve much and ends at kind of a cliffhanger.  This is a bummer considering I haven't been able to find any information on the sequel to this book.

Overall it is an okay read.  The creative magic system and perkiness of Lilibit as a character make it interesting.  It also seems like this could be a really interesting world if we could just learn more about it.  The rest of the book is somewhat flawed.  The torture and violence are a bit much for it to be a children's book, but it is appropriate for young adults.  After reading this book I don't feel a huge urge to check out anything else by this author.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Stone Voice Rising 

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