Sunday, January 29, 2012
Far World: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage
This book suffered from being the one I read just after Goliath. It was a decent fantasy, I guess, but it just couldn't compare. This book starts out with a handicapped boy, Marcus, who lives on Earth and has some subtle, but special powers. He has an imaginary world, called Far World that he dreams about when he is discouraged or lonely. Big surprise, he discovers that Far World is real and travels there and meets a girl, Kyja. She has her own handicap because, in Far World, she is the only one who does not have magic. The children discover that they are the subject of a prophecy (another big surprise) and they are destined to save both Earth and Far World.
It has been interesting this week to try to analyze why this book didn't work as well as the Westerfeld books. One issue was originality. The whole "children of prophesy who have to save the whole world" thing has been done so many times. All you writers out there, unless you are J.K. Rowling, don't write a fantasy book with a prophesy. It is just too overdone. More than that, though, it felt like the author came up with the story first, and then tried to fit the characters into the story. As a result, the children felt almost like action figures that a child was moving through the adventures. They never did feel like real people. I think one of the problems here was that there were so many action sequences that there was no time for the reader to get to know the characters. Looking back in my memory, it is hard to count how many times the children were almost caught, or about to be killed, or were caught and had to escape. After a while I thought to myself, "not again. Can't we just finish this." We needed more back story and emotional motivation. Why would two 13 year old children buy into this impossible quest and be willing to risk their lives when they didn't really understand what was going on?
So, I am being overly harsh. It wasn't all that bad and a 3rd grader probably would have loved it. The main message to you authors out there is that a writer needs to care about his characters more than he cares about the storyline. The story line has to come from the characters, not the other way around. (419 p.)