Thursday, 29 April 2010

Review: The Fall

Dear Blog,
this will be a very short review, because my mother keeps nagging me to finish a hat I'm knitting.  I don't think she realises that knitting is supposed to be fun.    Oh well, that's my mother for you.
So in an attempt to get out of repeatedly poking myself with double-pointed needles, dropping and losing count of stitches and misreading the pattern, I'll review The Seventh Tower: The Fall by Garth Nix.  Then I must face this stupid hat. 

I was interested in reading this because I'm a HUGE fan of the Old Kingdom Trilogy. They're probably some of the best books I've ever read. So when the Seventh Tower was released in the UK I was excited and voted for it at a book club I go to. Compared to two other books shortlisted for What We'll Read Next, The Fall won. I sat down in a quiet corner with it ready to be as wowed as I was by Sabriel.    
Alas, it was, in four words: Not The Old Kingdom. In five, Definitely Not the Old Kingdom.

This is for many reasons.  In short, compared to the wonderfully thought-up world that is the Old Kingdom, Tal's world is definitely not as mind-blowing. Tal himself seems underdeveloped and I had no reason to feel sympathetic towards him. That said, none of the characters had me rooting for them.  Are we supposed to like Milla? *shrugs*  Perhaps so, but I didn't.

It's just, well, too short.   Which is funny, really, considering the preceding sentence is: much like A Series of Unfortunate Events, the series doesn't need to be so long.  There are seven books, which could be compressed into two or three and certainly made much more interesting (but A Series of Unfortunate Events just got samey after a while).  It's too short for you to relate to the characters, for there to be a proper plot.   I can say much the same for the second book, Castle, which I've also read and I put down thinking, "Okay, so they got into the castle...apart from that, what else did they achieve?"
Nothing seems properly explained.  Why, exactly, are the Sunstones so important?  What illness is it that threatens his mother's life?  Perhaps these questions are just left unanswered so you buy the other six books. 

However.  Maybe this is all just because I've read the Old Kingdom trilogy and to me no other book by Garth Nix will ever live up to it.  I'm sure if I hadn't read them then I would have enjoyed The Fall much more than I did.  I can sort of imagine my ten-year-old self reading them and probably going "wow!", much as my own little sister does with this series. 

Summary:  Give it to any  9-13 year-old who's slightly too young for the OKT.  They can read Sabriel later and be blown away by it.  But anybody who has read it probably won't like it much. Because I fall into the latter group, I'll give it a 2.

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