Saturday, October 04, 2008

Review - Seeing Redd (The Looking Glass Wars, Book 2)

Seeing Redd (The Looking Glass Wars, Book 2) Ah, Alyss and Wonderland. I first jumped down Beddor's rabbit hole with the Hatter M comics and shortly after that with The Looking Glass Wars. I had just finished reading the 'original' Alice stories by Carroll and had that imagery fresh in my head. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and had a lot of fun with the new and very creative interpretation of the Wonderland world and the characters and interactions found there. Snippets of Beddor's writing style bugged me a little bit, but I got used to them.

In Seeing Redd, the second book in the Looking Glass saga, I wasn't quite as happily fulfilled. The first book, while it had a handful of issues like most books do, was a tightly woven story with compelling characters and a great story arc. While it obviously left itself open for the potential of a continuing saga, it also tied up most loose ends and left us with a very fulfilling and happy place to leave Alyss and her friends. The second book did not tie things up neatly. Normally that wouldn't be a problem for me. Some of my favorite books have been members of a series and often ended with wildly dramatic cliffhangers.

So what is different about Seeing Redd that leaves me unhappily unsettled? The problem, as I see it, is that the tone and styling of the novel seemed almost ignorant to the fact that it was leaving so much in the air by its end. The writing seemed to believe that everything was going to tie itself off nicely by the end of the final page. Rather than identifying and exposing the suspense of the loose threads, the novel practically disavowed their existence.

In the first book, I found myself turning pages faster and faster as I neared the end and as I did so, I was growing more and more nervous that the author wasn't going to have time to wrap things up. In the first book, the action took on a rip-roaring pace to finish things up neatly in a short amount of time. It moved quickly but didn't become disorienting.

As I neared the end of book two, I was again nervous that things weren't going to wrap up, but I recalled my previous experience and trusted the author to leave me with a satisfactory ending because I had no suggestions from the text that there would be any sort of suspenseful interlude between book 2 and book 3.

As the climax of the final battle wound down, I realized that I was in fact going to have to wait until book 3 for any additional conclusion. I wasn't left with a cliffhanger or any sort of major suspense. Rather, the resulting finish left me in a state of confusion. Most of the major action of book 2 had been nullified completely. There were a few alliances made which could be utilized in future stories. There were some intriguing actions that needed to be re-explored (like the kidnapping of a certain author), but for the most part, I feel like I could probably jump right into book 3 without ever reading book 2 and it's not likely that I would miss anything that a single chapter couldn't recap ("Character X aligns with Character Y. Characters A and B are betrayed and killed by Character X.", etc.).

Still, I am absolutely enjoying this world and the stories and imagination in this new Wonderland. I look forward to the new adventures. Despite my complaints above, I truly did enjoy this book and had a lot of fun with the characters and their struggles and triumphs. I just would have preferred the book to either be more adept in 'wrapping things up' or in adequately portraying a sense of suspense and anticipation for things to come. The current ending left me in a bit of a stupor.

2 1/2 stars

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