Saturday, August 13, 2011

Early Review - Wildwood by Colen Meloy and Carson Ellis (3.5/5 stars)

Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles, Book IReading level: Middle Grade
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy
Size: 560 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: August 30, 2011
ISBN: 978-0062024688
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in Wildwood Chronicles
Source: Advanced Reading Copy from Book Expo America
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got an advanced reading copy of this book at Book Expo America.  I love middle grade fantasy adventures and was eager to read this book.  Overall it was a good story and well written.

Twelve year old Prue is supposed to be watching her baby brother Mac.  She is doing a wonderful job until she turns her back for a second.  When she turns around Mac is being carried off by crows to the Impassible Wilderness.  No one goes into the Impassible Wilderness, it is just not done.  Well Prue decides she must get her brother back, so off she goes walking right into the Impassible Wilderness.  One of Prue's classmates, Curtis follows her out of curiousity.  Suddenly Prue and Curtis find themselves in the Wildwood, a place full of talking animals, dangerous politics, and even war.

This was a very well written book.  It is easy to read and switches viewpoints mainly between Prue and Curtis.  Occasionally we here for the viewpoint of the Dowager Governess as well.  There is some magic throughout, but most of the magic is in the form of all the talking animals that inhabit the forest.

The story is more of an adventure quest than anything.  Prue in her effort to find her brother is transported from one part of the kingdom to another in a desperate quest to find some one her can help her.  She flies on eagles, is captured by coyotes, and runs with Bandits.  Curtis is more on a quest to find somewhere he belongs; he has always felt different and would love to be part of something that needs him.

There are a lot of good lessons about friendship, determination, and loyalty throughout.  I didn't really enjoy how Prue's parents were depicted as so slow and cowardly.  Although I enjoyed the plot and the world, I never really was engaged with Prue and Curtis as characters.  That being said the magical world of talking animals was endearing as were the Mystics of the North Woods.

The story is very complete and wrapped up nicely.  There are a couple story threads that I am sure will be addressed in future books.  The illustrations throughout the book match the tone of the story nicely; they have a folkart feel to them and are fun to look at.

Overall this was a decent middle grade adventure fantasy.  The book is well-written, the plot well done, and the world of talking animals endearing.  I never really engaged with Prue and Curtis as characters and I didn't enjoy the depiction of their parents as lazy, cowardly, and slow.  If you like adventure fantasies I would recommend reading some of this book to see if you like.  I personally probably won't read any more books in this series, mainly because there are so many excellent middle grade adventure fantasties out there in which I like the characters better.  I would recommend Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, Percy and the Olympians by Rick Riorden, The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riorden, The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens, or Rise of the Darklings by Paul Crilley in place of this book.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

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