Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review - The Secret of the Water Knight by Rusalka Reh (1/5 stars)

The Secret of the Water KnightReading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size:  100 pages
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Release Date: May 10, 2011
ISBN-13:   978-1611090062
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Amazon Vine Program
 1/5 stars

I got an Advanced Reading Copy through the Amazon Vine program.  It sounded like a fun story, but was a complete dud.  I don't know if the story just didn't translate well or what, but as short as it was it was a struggle to get through.  I've given one star to maybe three books in the hundreds and hundreds that I have reviewed...and this is a one star book.

Kat is afraid of swimming.  Her parents take her to an island on vacation with the intent of teaching her how to swim. While there Kat finds a magic whistle and finds that she is destined to defeat a horrible curse put on the island by a villainous toad.  Will Kat be able to set aside her fear of swimming long enough the save the island?

I am trying to think about positive things about this book and am having trouble.   I guess it is kind of creative and had potential to be a fantastic story if you consider the general idea.  The idea of a girl running into a dolphin who is a Water Knight is interesting, yet we didn't get to see much of the Water Knight in the story.

First let's talk about the awkwardness of the writing.  The writing does not flow, it is fractured and simple.  Kat sounds more like a simpleton than a little girl throughout the book.  I don't know if the book was poorly translated or what, but it was horrible.  At 100 pages long this should have been a cinch to read, but it was a struggle.  It was one of those books where I just kept shaking my head and thinking "did anyone actually read this before it was printed?"  Seriously I want the hour that it took to read this book back.

Kat's hilarious father is just annoying.  Kat spends time dwelling on the Americaness of things on the island (bright water toys, loud tourists) but she is American and is on a Spanish speaking island; it comes off as confusing and odd.  Kat makes a number of decisions that don't seem to fit with her characters and don't make a lot of sense.  All of the characters are mere sketches, none of them are that interesting.  There is a lot of Spanish in the book and it is translated, I guess it might help your kid learn a few Spanish phrases but mostly it was just obnoxious.

Now let's talk about the numerous inconsistencies in the story.  At one point Kat talks about how mosquitoes sting people...umm okay but being from Minnesota this was a glaring error...they bite, they don't sting.  Then there is the man Kat meets with webbing up to the tips of his fingers...guess what he wears gloves all the time.  The author explicitly described the webbing and how it goes to the very tips of his fingers and then spends time talking about his gloves. do you get gloves on webbed hands?  This is talked about multiple times in the story and it annoyed the stuffing out of me...maybe the webbing is really loose and he tucks it down between his fingers?  I am not sure why this bothered me so just didn't make sense.

Lastly lets discuss the final epic (or actually pretty non-epic) battle between Kat and the evil toad.  First of all Kat suddenly becomes one with the water and can swim after all the time of not being able to swim even a stroke.  Next she swims into an underground cave and (not only stays down there forever) but can talk down there and walk around.  So suddenly not only can Kat swim like a fish, she can breath underwater, stay under water indefinitely, and walk around.  Why is this?  As a reader we will never know.  I read it through multiple times and couldn't figure out if it was the magic whistle, the Water Knight, or maybe just that the stars were aligned correctly.  By the end of the story I had no idea what had happened...honestly though I didn't really care, I just heaved a breath of relief that I was done reading the most horrible book I have read this year so far (I've read 154 book this year so far so that is saying something).

Overall just a horrible book.  Poorly written, poorly edited, awkward language, an inconsistent plot, and dull characters.  The writing level might challenge a five year old but any older children will be bored.  The only interesting parts, where Kat interacts with the dolphin, are very brief.  Please don't let your child read this book, they may never want to read again.  Especially a middle grade reader.  Get them something wonderful and magical like Harry Potter, Percy and the Olympians, Warriors, or Fablehaven.  I can't believe this book is targeted at that age group and I can't believe that it is in print.  I almost never give one star reviews for books since for me that requires horrible editing, glaring errors, and an atrocious plot and characters...this book is the exception though, it had it all and not in a good way.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges.

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