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Friday, January 22, 2010

"Libyrinth" by Pearl North (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Introduction: Any lover of reader would be instantly drawn to a book that deals with a young girl who has the books "talking" to her. That was the first thing that attracted me to Libyrinth and made me want to see what was in store.

Although this novel is often referred to as Pearl North's debut novel, North has been published under a different name. Libryrinth is Pearl North's first YA novel.

Overview: Libyrinth takes place many years in the future. Where there is almost a deserted area of Earth where magic and technology are mixed, and most importantly wars are started over books.

Haly is one of the Libyrarians. The Libyrarians are a group of people chosen to preserve and protect the sacred books that have come from all over the Earth and hold the knowledge that is passed down from the Ancients. The books are stored in a maze like library known as the Libyrinth. Haly has held a secret close to her, the books can talk to her, reading aloud in her head passages from their stories.

Every year the Eradicants come to the Libyrinth and destroy a certain amount of books. They hold an almost celebration in which they celebrate the burning of hundreds of books. The Eradicants fear books and anyone that can read, for they are a sacred group that rely on song and stories to pass down information and believe that writing down of any information is bad and should be stopped.

On the last evening of the book burning, Haly overhears a book describe the knowledge to a sacred book. This book is known as the Book of the Night, and will lead to the destruction of all books if it falls into the hands of the Eradicants. The description of where this book is hidden is being passed on to one of the lead Eradicants, who will most certainly send a group to find this book.

Haly takes it upon herself to go off in search of this sacred book and finding it before the Eradicants do. Along on the quest she takes her mentor Selena, and one of her friends from the kitchen, Clauda. However, the quest turns into a learning experience not only for the girls about themselves but about the history of the war between the Libyrarians and the Eradicants, and Haly learns that there is a prophecy that has been told among the Eradicants that might just involve her.

Analysis: My expectations for Libyrinth were fairly high. A storyline that involved books talking to a young girl, seemed like something I'd love and really enjoy. However, I had somewhat of a mixed experience with this book. There were parts that I enjoyed but there were parts that didn't work for me and I feel fairly strongly about.

The storyline of the novel is fairly straight forward. There isn't anything to complicated and allows the reader to start and stop without having to keep going back and flipping pages. Pearl North's writing has a very YAish feel to it, in that events move quickly and there isn't anything over complicated to the story.

The idea of having books talk to Haly was a unique and attention grabbing idea. Any lover of books and reading would be instantly attracted to a story that involved this type of plot. Throughout the story there are many times that quotes are used from various classic stories. The Diary of Anne Frank plays a pivotal role in the ending of the book, and while the quotes were enjoyable they also served as a hindrance, which I will talk about later.

Another area that I liked was although the author bio suggests that there will be more novels involving this land and characters. Libyrinth really could serve as a stand alone novel, and the events are pretty much wrapped up at the end of the novel.

Although the plot was attention grabbing there were many parts of this novel that just didn't work for myself and really prevented me from really enjoying the novel.

The first part was the use of Nod. Nod is Haly's imp friend/pet that travels with her throughout Libyrinth and the quest. While this might seem a little out there, the character was annoying and appeared to just be thrown out there. The imps do play a major part in the end of the book but it just didn't jive with the feel of the book. There were no other demony type characters mentioned and I couldn't figure out why the imp talked in such an annoying way. This was just a personal issue as many people may have enjoyed this character.

While I enjoyed the use of quotes from classic books, the use of quotes as the novel moved on seemed to be overused and not really conductive to the movement of the story. Instead I found myself skipping a book quote when it'd come up because it really had nothing to do with the plot. A little here and there was enjoyable but when Haly started reading The Diary of Anne Frank the quotes just seemed to overtake the story and disrupt the flow of the book. I loved that she used the novel as a way to help, but I didn't feel we needed to be reading as many quotes as we were given.

Another area of the story that seemed to hinder my enjoyment was the huge segments of the book dedicated to describing of the use of massage and energy flow. Clauda at one point in the novel is attacked by a weapon that disrupts her energy flow. While she is receiving treatment for this, Pearl North takes pages upon pages to describe the energy and vibes that Clauda has. This was really a downfall of the story as it felt as if a lot of time was spent on making the readers understand this segment, and there were various times in the novel that readers were taken back to the treatment, and again we were bombarded with unnecessary explanations of the energy and vibes.

There were a lot of areas that I felt could have been explored more. One of the characters in the novel starts to struggle with her feelings for another girl. She doesn't seem to understand why she has these feelings and she doesn't know if she should act upon it. While there isn't a lot of focus upon this, it did feel as though it was randomly thrown out there. There are maybe 3 references to this romance, sexual orientation, and that's it. The girl doesn't act on them, and she doesn't really mention it again in the novel. For such an issue that could be so controversial, especially in a YA book, it really should have either been developed more or left out of the book completely.

The last issue that I had with this novel was that of the timing of events. The events all had a fast paced, moving along feeling to them. By the ending of the book I thought that over time the events were within a week. Only after the characters returned to Libyrinth did I realize that it had been a month. The timing felt a bit off and it was a bit of a distraction.

In the end, Libyrinth had a lot of potential. The storyline really was something that most really could enjoy. However there were a lot of distractions that really prevented this novel from living up to the potential that it had. It wasn't a bad book, but it has a lot of components that might not work for a lot of people. While I would probably check out the second novel to see if any of these problems were fixed, I don't know if this book would be on the top of a list of recommended books.


Jules said...

The premise of the book does sound interesting, but reading your review I think I'd have the same issues against it as you do. Thanks for sharing.

Cindy said...

You're welcome. It wasn't that the book was bad it just had a lot of things that I know will make or break the book for people :).

The book talking is a great idea and even the war between the groups was interesting, it's the other stuff that made it a meh book for myself.


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