Tag Archives: series

Pathfinder

Pathfinder (Serpent World, #1)by Orson Scott Card

I really can’t decide whether I enjoyed this book or totally couldn’t stand it. On the one hand, I LOVE the ideas and the weird (but almost plausible the way Card presents them) time/space travel ideas; on the other hand, the story moves at a snail’s pace and so much information gets repeated so many times after I already “GOT” the ideas and just wanted to see some action or some emotional exchanges.

Some reviewers claim that Pathfinder is like Ender’s Game. I cannot disagree more. I think, at most, it is like Xenocide and Children of the Mind: in their focusing on Card’s leaping scientific (but fantastic) complexities and strong political/social maneuvering discourses and also in that Card did not place as strong an emphasis on the impeccable pacing and climax-building as he did for both Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow.

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Recommending Series Books

Updated the Recommended Series Books for my students (4th grade – 8th grade).

The list has grown and is now quite long and there are still titles missing but I’m going to stop here — for this summer, any way.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Author: J.K. Rowling
Rating:
Reading Level: 5th and up

Pages:
Publisher: Scholastic
Edition: Hardcover, 2007

I got the book shortly after midnight on Saturday morning, July 21…, at “The Harry Potter Place” party hosted by Scholastic. Spent 2 hours reading it (1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.) — thought, “Now, this is quite good. I’m not annoyed by redundant adjectives or adverbs or repetitive verbs… And I’m really sucked back into this world again. How wonderful this feels!” Then, most of the day and evening of July 21 was spent reading/dozing off/reading/dozing off on the comfy chair in the living room. Dozing off, not because the story wasn’t exciting but simply due to exhaustion. So, these early chapter and adventure took on a dreamy quality — I wonder if it’s the text or just because I was dreaming … and Harry was doing a lot of dreaming and seeing through another’s eye. His was nightmares, mine was a reader’s trance. Being a slow reader, I couldn’t finish it on Saturday. And I dared not get online to visit any book places, in fear of knowing what comes next. Not that it would have spoiled my experience… but, in a book full of deliberately hidden clues and mysteries, it was more fun to not know anything and slowly discover the “truth.” Sunday saw me busy entertaining house guests and stealing moments to dip back into the tale. By bedtime, I was so deep into the world and so engrossed with the plot threads that I knew today (Monday) couldn’t be spent in any other way but finishing it.

And finishing it I did, with much shedding of tears, much satisfaction with certain of my “predictions” came true, delighted in the reappearance of certain characters and elements from previous books, and inevitably slightly annoyed by a couple of threads and characters left underdeveloped. But, over all… it was a truly satisfying conclusion to a long journey. The many many pages in this case are not wasteful or draggy, but fitting for the exhausting and arduous journey that Harry and the Gang undertook. I’m just, really, pleased.

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Titan’s Curse

Author: Rick Riordan
Rating:
Reading Level: 4th – 6th

Pages:
Publisher: Hyperion
Edition: Hardcover Galley, 2007

Reading the 3rd installment in the Percy Jackson series is now like drinking a can of regular soda – there is the sugar rush and the addiction! It’s fun, it’s full of fast paced actions, it’s familiar, and it does leave you wanting more – especially with Percy having a new enemy and Luke might not be all that he seems! Although it will not be considered exactly the healthiest choice by “reading dieticians” (this term here refers to the literary purists who think reading only exists to improve one’s literary taste and heighten one’s intelligence or humanity).

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The King of Attolia


Author: Megan Whelan Turner
Rating:
Reading Level: 6th grade and up

Pages: 387
Publisher: Greenwillow
Edition: Hardcover, 2006

Such an intriguing, subtle, and exciting book! Since I did not read the first two in the trilogy (The Thief and Queen of Attolia,) the first chapters of this one are somewhat confusing because all the relationships between characters and the political complications are presented in the most ambiguous way. I know this is Turner’s style and became appreciative of this ambiguity as the tale unfolded in front of me. I learned to just sink into the story, follow the lead of the narrator and let go of my impulses to make sense of everything, trusting that all will make sense eventually. And it delivered: all the threads are gathered at the end and the knot is tied up neatly, very satisfying! And I couldn’t help but falling in love with the characters — all of them, but mostly, of course, with the King and the Queen, whose love for each other rises out of the page and grabs hold of me, almost physically. This read is quite an “experience.”

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The Harsh Cry of the Heron


Author: Lian Hearn
Rating: – for the first 300 or so pages
Rating: – for the last 200 or so pages
Reading Level: HS and up

Pages: 528
Publisher: Riverhead
Edition: Hardcover, 2006

If I hadn’t wanted so much to finish the series of Otori tales, and hadn’t heard that the ending is truly worthwhile, I would have put down the book at page 215 or so. The first half of the book needs so much editing! Hearn’s static character descriptions (a long paragraph on the appearance and the personality of each major and minor character), while charming in small doses, become an annoyance when too many new (or old but forgotten by book 4) characters are introduced this way. And the repeated explanation of “The Way of the Houou” leaves me feeling that Hearn cannot trust her readers’ intelligence to have grasped the philosophical underpinning of the way of peace. The plot development is also painfully slow.

I have no problem with the fact that this is a story of Takeo and Kaede when they are adults — but it really would have been better for me if there has been a better balance of politics and tribe skills (up the fantasy element, down play the political struggles). Someone mentioned on Amazon.com that it is disappointing how Kaede is reduced to a plain character troubled by traditional prejudice (against the twins), the lack of a male offspring, and other petty feelings. I can agree with that — Takeo continues to be a fully drawn character but Kaede becomes quite shadowy. Her feelings are told without the possibility of deep understanding by the reader. Her final actions, however, are in keeping with her passionate nature. Her old coolness in facing adverse situations sprang from her love and trust for Takeo. Thus, she cannot possibly keep her cool when that foundation is destroyed.

But… the ENDING — the last 150 pages or so… MY GOODNESS. I often shed tears over incidents and characters in books, but the violent sobs and non-stoppable stream of tears are uncommon, even for me. Two days after closing the book, the sorrow still tinges my mood.

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The End


Author: Lemony Snicket
Rating:
Reading Level: 4th and up

Pages: 324
Publisher: HarperCollins
Edition: Hardcover, 2006

I’m so glad that this series did not end with either a completely depressing scenario or a sappy silly one. It felt emotionally profound and satisfying. But… did the series really end? How about that extra chapter? How about The Beatrice Letters (which was published not long ago and which somehow “predicts” the next adventures AFTER The End has ended.)

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