Title: Goldenhand (Abhorsen #5)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Format: Audio Book
Narrator: Heather Wilds
Listening Time: 11 hours, 34 mins
No synopsis for this book since it’s book 5 in the series, technically book 4 in chronological order. Read this after the original trilogy, since this is spoilers for the story later on!
So when Garth Nix announced he was working on another Old Kingdom book not long after publishing Clariel, I immediately fell off my rocker. Many people know how much I love these books. So when this came out last year I was so stoked. But…it took me almost a year to read it. I read the first half in physical form, then decided to finish it in audio book form. I didn’t expect it to take me so long to finish the newest book in a series I’ve loved for so long, but that’s life. Let’s break this down!
- Continuation: I was so excited to be back with certain characters from the original trilogy. You see how they’ve changed since those events and how they face thew new conflict in this book. I was glad that Garth Nix brought us back to see old characters again. It was fitting to see the story flow into the next phase after the series.
- New stuff: With every book in this series, Garth Nix continues building his world with showing us new locations, giving new lore about the world and new characters. This time, we’re introduced to characters from a Northern tribe past the Clayr’s glacier. Garth Nix shows us these primeval tribes, with their different social norms then those from Ancelstierre or the Clayr.
- Characters: Ferrin is the new character whom we get her perspective for much of the book. She’s from a Northern tribe way in the top of the Old Kingdom map. Her simple language and actions reflect many ancient nomads of history; Garth Nix always does a good job with researching history to get an authentic feeling.
- Last 25%: There was a moment towards the last quarter of the book where things picked up really quick, revelations were given and a few tantalizing details made my critical mind shut the hell up and enjoy the ride! Whenever that happens, I strap in and have fun. Garth Nix pulled out all the stops for building the last part to the end. This helped my overall enjoyment.
- Wordiness: Now, if I’m wrong on this, please correct me. But I felt like this new installment was WAY too wordy! The beginning severely beats you over the head with talking about the events of Abhorsen (book 3) and I didn’t think this was necessary. If the reader has read all the books up to this point in the right order, you do not need to keep referencing everything that happened. Also, the way many of the characters talked felt too overdone and just too much.
- Pacing: For me, the story didn’t pick up hardly at all until the last 25%. We had a couple small cool moments. But other than that, there was no urgency in the pacing. It was a lot of talking, dumpy exposition and flying around. While it did pick up in the end, the majority of the book felt too drawn out and could’ve been shortened to heighten the anticipation.
- Narrator: While Heather Wilds didn’t do an awful job, she was too monotone. When there was moments of anger, danger and fear, her voice didn’t capture that. She did regular dialogue fine, but with being an actress being in theater, the voice is really important with conveying emotions. If you love Tim Curry’s narrations, you’ll be very biased (like me) and not enjoy her narration nearly as much.
- How the book was written: It was very clear that the author this book for people who haven’t the first trilogy at all. With the way he explains things from the magic, customs, description of the dead, etc. he wrote it like you can start with this book! That’s a big NO for me. This is book 5 in a series. Briefly mention things from previous books when it’s needed, but don’t explain everything to the reader. People need to read the original trilogy BEFORE reading this book; you understand the character’s feelings and motivations so much better and the references make more sense. I think this was a major fault of the publisher allowing this. Many books in series do not hold your hand as the book begins if you’re reading out of order.
Overall: Being a massive fan of this series, I’m glad that this book is in the world. The world always continues to expand and I did love how he kept the story from the original trilogy going. While some things could’ve been handled differently, the ending made up for it and my general enjoyment never really waivered.
Rating: 1/2 stars
INVICTUS & PERSONAL GOALS FOR NETGALLEY
So if you’re a member on NetGalley, you’ll sometimes see that a book is available in the “Read Now” section for the first 500 people. I’ve done this twice this year, being a bit clicky happy. The result? I’ve DNF’d both of them. One was Defy the Stars from earlier this year and this book. With this book, this was getting a ton of buzz since Book Expo and a bunch of people were talking about it. I had never read anything by Ryan Graudin before and figured I’d give it a shot. Then, after 18%, I abandoned ship.
Why you say? Well, I DNF’d this book for three reasons: writing style, main character and a few cliches I picked up in this book. Many cliches will never die because they’re popular, or true, etc. But the cliches in this book, to me, are ones that I am sick of seeing in YA. I feel like they dumb the story down and take any substance away from it. I don’t think this was intentional by the author. But since I’m a big writing style oriented writer (due to my English degree and many, many writing workshops), I don’t like seeing lots of cliches everywhere. So, here’s a breakdown of what made me DNF this book. No quotations from the book will be used.
- Main Character: Faraway is our male main character, whose mother was a big deal with time travel. But due to a choice, Far was born outside of time. Now, years later, he’s at the top of the academy to be ready for official space traveling. But after failing exam, he goes all “I’m a spoiled brat, arrogant and won’t think before I act.” If he’s at the top of his class and does everything well in this academy, why does he sabotage his chance to explain himself? All that work is wasted when you’re a total jerk. Just because his mom was famous, he acts all superior. He reminds me a little bit of Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movies but with much less personality. I feel like he was one dimensional and frustrating to read from. This was one cliche that I am getting tired of.
- Lack of creativity: This book is set in the very far future, the 2100’s. Yet, the characters obsess over 80’s toys, talk like 2017 teenagers, play Tetris and play old songs. While these are classic things with pop culture, this felt like a 2017 set science fiction novel. The only futuristic thing is the aspect of how the time travel works and the technology that’s mentioned. But that’s it. If this is the 2100’s, isn’t there newer music, virtual reality games and other things that the characters really like? It felt like the author stretched the creativity enough to make it feel like you were far in the future. For example, Farenheit 451 was written back in the 1950’s. Ray Bradbury had technology in his book that wouldn’t be invented for decades like flat panel televisions and 24 hour ATMS. Science fiction shows you what is possible and I didn’t get any of that other than the brief explanation of the time travel.
- Unexplained, sudden details: There was one small scene early in the book that says something along the lines of “…and between playing this 80’s game, choosing our next vacation and seeing endless snogging makeouts of person A and person B…” This was jarring because there was no earlier indication of these two people even liking each other. They do know each other, but when you only have one scene with them talking and then making out? There’s missing backstory that you don’t get. I feel like that never works in books when you have 2 people who rarely interact, even know though they know each other, and then they’re making out in the next scene? This felt forced and not necessary.
- Writing Style: One huge rule of writing is “show, don’t tell” that we’ve heard forever. For me, this book tells you everything. The author presents a character, then tells you every single emotion and thought they have in a few paragraphs. With that, less is more. You can get a good idea of what a character is feeling from only a couple sentences. Telling the reader every single thing about a character as soon as you meet them is not good time management. It also doesn’t help you get a proper connection to the character. This happened to me with Far’s mother in the prologue. Sure the setting was cool and the tension was building a bit. But you knew all that she was thinking and everything in three to four paragraphs and then the story picked up again. There was also a denseness to it when things were being explained. It felt like information from a textbook you had to get through. Finally, there was a lingo word that drove me up the wall? Remember the word “shuck” used in the Maze Runner series and how they used for pretty much everything? This book does the same thing but with a different word. That is a useless tool to me. If you want to say “hell” or “damn it” just say it. When you use the word at least three times on every page for profanity, screwing up and such, that can drive people crazy. If that element drove you nuts in The Maze Runner, this book will make you feel the same really quick.
So, those are the reasons why I DNF’d this book. I may sound really harsh to some of you, but that’s how I felt while reading it. I personally don’t make myself reading something that I can either read way too little of or just not like. I think we all want to spend our time reading books we do enjoy. I am in the minority on this right now, but that’s how things go. Could I pick this up again? I don’t think so. If the writing style drove me nuts, and being picky about how a book is written, it won’t happen. So since this happened, I had a few days to think about this.
From now on, I will not do the “read if you’re the first 500 people” unless it’s an author I trust or if it’s hyped up enough and I see some pretty awesome reviews. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to keep doing this since I’ve struck out twice. So the next this happens, I’ll just on the sidelines and do other things. I want my NetGalley experiences to be better from now on and I want to DNF stuff less. I also want to get ARC’s that I am more certain that I’ll enjoy over books like this where I was totally blind. Have you guys felt the same?Are you really strict with ARCs? Do you have to go on a request ban sometimes?