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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"The Boundless" by Kenneth Oppel (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

 Visit Kenneth Oppel's Official Website Here

OVERVIEW: All aboard for an action-packed escapade from the internationally bestselling author of Airborne and the Silverwing trilogy.

The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life!

When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past.

In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?

FORMAT: The Boundless is a standalone YA novel. It is an action-adventure novel that has murder, mystery, and a few historical elements thrown in. The novel stands at 320 pages and was published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on April 22, 2014.

ANALYSIS: Murder, mystery, an occasional Sasquatch, and a giant circus are all tossed together to create the main storyline for The Boundless. This adventure-packed YA novel by Kenneth Oppel is beautifully written and for the right reader, a truly stunning novel.

I have read some of Kenneth Oppel's previous books – mainly the Matt Cruse series – and realized that Oppel has a very unique style of writing. The writing is solid and elegant. Oppel uses this style of writing to slowly develop both characters and plot. Readers will not form 'instant' bonds with characters, yet will slowly learn to love/cherish them.

The Boundless is no exception to Oppel's previous writing styles. The Boundless is set on an extremely large train that rivals some of the cruise ships of today. There is a saloon, pool, fitness room, shoot gallery, and circus all located on this train. That doesn't even count the shrine and all its treasures of the man who invented/created this train.

The entire novel follows Will Everett. While traveling on the very first trip for The Boundless, Will Everett has the misfortune of witnessing a murder. The murderer quickly sees Will and sets off to capture him/portray him as a 'bad guy' before Will can tell the authorities. In order to survive, Will must think on his feet. This includes joining a circus, spotting who may or may not be on his side, and doing things he never imagined he'd do in his entire lifetime.

The Boundless does take some time to get into. The story is slow to advance. There is a lot of time spent developing a backstory, creating characters, and focusing on the historical aspect of the story. This is not necessarily bad, but it really will only appeal to a certain type of reader. I think readers that want a lot of action and adventure will not stick around for the story.

The highlight of this novel is the train. Oppel does an amazing job describing the different class sections, the different cars, and really creating a world on this train. However, the almost sluggish pace of the novel will take away from this. There were many times when I felt more focus could have been on characters/plot development, and less on the train. The train was the real 'main character'.

When characters did do stuff or were introduced, everything was just so uneventful. The characters seemed to be going through the motions, as opposed to reacting to situations or really doing anything. I half expected something to snap and really wake the characters up, but it didn't happen.

Another highlight was the ending. I really felt the ending was pretty good and I liked the way things turned out. I just wish that the whole novel had the same appeal/feeling. The ending was amazing, but the beginning was just 'eh'.

I enjoyed reading The Boundless, but it didn't seem to have the impact Oppel's other novels did. I walked away feeling 'meh' about the whole experience. I feel more could have been done with the 'Sasquatch' character/idea. It had potential, but it came across as a thrown in idea to make the story appeal to a wider audience. Unfortunately, it just didn't have the same impact it should have on me.

Overall, I enjoyed The Boundless. Oppel's writing is amazing and strong, but I don't feel this is by far his best work. The train was unique and fun to read about, but the slow pace of the novel really took some of the novel's potential away. The Boundless will appeal to a certain reader, but in terms of having a wide appeal to a broad audience, I just do not think it is there.


windsprite said...

Oh, I love Kenneth Oppel :)
I think this will come to my to-be-read...

Cindy said...

People that love Oppel's previous works will certainly like this one. I don't think it would be a good 'intro' to his work though, as - in my opinion - it wasn't his strongest.

Hope you enjoy it.

Unknown said...

Hearing about this author for the first time, but it sounds great! Def gonna give it a read, thanks for the great review!

Anonymous said...

My two boys ages 8 and 11 were completely entranced when listening to this story book. They both gave it two thumbs up. They do not agree with the above criticism of the story.

Anonymous said...

Awsome! Everybody should read.


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