Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lisa's Take - Sabriel (Garth Nix)

So every time I finish a book, I open up a template for a review of it. I usually keep them in my Drafts folder on gmail, as a way to remind myself to get it done in a timely fashion. This particular review has been sitting in draft-form for well over a month now, and I haven't come up with any interesting or witty ways to approach it. I feel kind of bad, because it was an enjoyable book - I just don't know that I have a lot to say about it. Part of the problem is that this book is YA, which I'm proving to be pretty awful at reviewing. Maybe I should have done a mini-review. Feh.

Ok, enough stalling, let’s get going on the review. This is a great little book, and it's got some very interesting ideas. The main character, Sabriel, is the daughter of a necromancer, and has learned his trade - being able to walk the rivers of death, and using bells to control the souls there. This particular variety of necromancer is good, rather than bad, as they keep demons and restless spirits from making trouble in the real world.

The short of the story is: father goes missing, Sabriel goes to find him and inherits the role of her family namesake - Abhorsen, the leader in the fight against the underworld. She's helped out by all sorts of interesting magical contraptions, accompanied by a demon-cat, and falls in love with a random dude she finds trapped in statue-form, who was instrumental in some historical event that lead to the current trouble with wild magic. There’s drama, adventure, and a couple of climaxes. Yay.

The book is short and a quick read – I took it out in an afternoon or two. There are some really cool settings and vivid images painted. In general the characters are good and believable, and the story is absorbing. I liked it. My one gripe is that the whole love-interest thing was waaaay predictable and almost… out of place? I think I would have had more respect for the author if he had pulled a Scot Lynch (re: Sabetha). Still, that’s a pretty small gripe.

Overall, I’d put Sabriel at the top of the list of YA I’ve read lately, and I’ll definitely be picking up the sequels at some point. Tasty stuff.

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