Monday, December 6, 2010

Review - Venom and Song (Berinfell Prophecies, Book 2) by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper (3/5 stars)

Venom and Song: The Berinfell Prophecies Series - Book TwoReading level: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: July 13, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1400315062
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd in Berinfell Prophecies series
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 3/5 stars

I was really excited to read this book.  I loved the first book in this series, The Curse of the Spider King, it looked like it was setting up a wonderful epic fantasy series.  This book was okay, but there are just too many characters and too many switches in is hard to ever really get into the story.

This book picks up right where the first one left off; the Seven are fleeing the Spider King's ambush and going into the hidden elven realm of Nightwish.  In Nightwish they will start their training and learn both how to work together and how to make the most of their abilities.  In the end the big question is; will they be able to confront and defeat the Spider King?

I really really loved the first book and was excited to see what this middle grade epic fantasy developed into.  Well...let's just say this book wasn't as good as I expected.  This book has a major problem that takes away from everything else and that is the number of characters.  The number of characters alone wouldn't be a problem if the authors didn't try to tell the story from all of their individual views.  This results in a story that is very fractured.  In one chapter you might change view point 4, 5, or even more, times.  Rather than giving us a better picture of what is going on, the opposite happens.  Basically everytime I really started getting into the story I'd get jerked away and have to start reading from a different perspective.

The crazy shifting from one character to another leads to another problem.  I didn't care about or really get to understand any of the characters.  The boys' names are so similar (Jimmy, Johnny, Tommy, Jett) that I was always struggling to remember who was who.  Thinking okay Tommy like bows, Jett is strong, etc.  I basically has to stereotype the characterse in my mind to keep them straight.  In addition to this we don't get to spend enough time with any of the characters to really get to understand them and their motives; in general we never hear what they think, just what they do.  Occasionally the authors step back to have a poignant moment with a character, but these are scarce and seem awkward.

Okay, so the above are my main problems with this book.  There were still a lot of things that I did like.  The authors have created a solid fantasy world, that could be extremely engaging.  The action scenes are well done (if fractured because of the constant viewpoint switches).  The story itself is epic in proportions and never drags, it is fairly well paced.  The story wraps up at a good point, but leaves you with an idea about what the next book will be about.

Overall, I am sad to say, that because of the number of characters whose viewpoint you read from I found the story fractured, anagonizing to get through, unengaging, and filled with characters that I never could really care about.  I had enough trouble getting through this book that I probably won't read anymore in the series.  This is too bad because I love the world that the authors have created and think this could end up being a wonderful epic fantasy series.  Maybe if future books try and focus on just a couple characters they will better and I will give them a shot.  As of now though, I think I will skip future books.  I would recommend the Fabelhaven series by Brandon Mull or John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series in place of this series; both are great fantasy series aimed at the Middle Grade audience.

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

Venom and Song: The Berinfell Prophecies Series - Book Two 

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