Two Middle Book Mini-Reviews: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld and Blue Fire by Janice Hardy

[Behemoth: LibrarythingGoodreads | Blue Fire: LibrarythingGoodreads]

These two books don’t actually have much in common, but I’m killing two birds with one stone here because they’re both sequels to books I really enjoyed, and while I liked both books, I don’t have a heck of a lot to say about either one.

Behemoth by Scott WesterfeldBehemoth is the sequel to the awesome steampunk Leviathan. In this installment, Deryn and Alek go their separate ways in Istanbul: Deryn’s got a secret mission to help the Darwinist powers hold the Dardanelles out of Clanker hands, while Alek’s looking for allies to help him end the war.

One thing I really like about this is that, despite being a middle book, it doesn’t read as just a way to move the characters from Point A in the first book to Point B for the conclusion in the third. I think Deryn’s story is stronger in this regard — she’s actually got a mission she’s attempting to carry out, where Alek stumbles into a rebellion and makes the best of it — but their two stories came together perfectly and the climax was pulled off really well. And we got another couple new female characters into the mix, which is great for a book that takes place in the midst of military actions, which tend to skew male.

One thing Jess and I discuss when we talk books is that she’s a much shippier reader than I am. She actually liked Leviathan more than I did, because I was pretty much indifferent to the budding romance between Alek and Deryn, and she loved it. This book works the romance in a lot more heavily… and this time, I really enjoyed it. I came out of it much more invested in their relationship than after the first. The book is a solid four and a half cupcpakes, only missing five because the background politicking remains somewhat confusing.

Blue Fire by Janice HardyBlue Fire is the sequel to The Shifter. In it, Nya and her friends are still wanted by the Duke for some nefarious purpose — and when her friends are arrested, Nya has to sneak into enemy territory to try to get them back.

This book had essentially all of the same strengths as the first did: Nya’s voice is strong and fun, high stakes, and great worldbulding. Seriously — worldbuilding is a huge part of my love of sci fi and fantasy, and Hardy does a great job in Blue Fire of creating a whole new city with its own personality, distinct from that in the first book, while making them feel like part of the same world overall. She also really gets into exploring Nya’s healing powers. She lets healing be a power that’s as morally dubious as the person who uses it, and goes further into its uses than most authors (for example, creepy soldiers who can heal themselves in the midst of battle by shifting their pain into their armor).

That said, I found it hard to keep track of what Nya’s skills actually do. She’s not a “normal” healer, so her abilities are different and harder to pin down, and she discovers new facets on occasion. I was also pretty lost by the climax. Now, I admit I do tend to skim looking for dialogue and action (terrible habit, I know, but breaking it after so long is not easy!) but I went back and reread when I realized I was lost… and still couldn’t quite work it out. I was a little confused by the first book’s climax, too, but afterwards it had a handy, “This is what that means,” paragraph so I got it. In Blue Fire, I was left going, “…huh?” (That said, I appreciate that at least Hardy doesn’t talk down to her readers.)

However, the denouncement and the cliffhanger at the end were great. I think the very last section adds a lot of depth to the supporting cast, and I can’t wait to see the how everything plays out when the series ends. Four cupcakes.

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    2 Responses to “Two Middle Book Mini-Reviews: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld and Blue Fire by Janice Hardy”

    1. […] my review of Blue Fire (the middle book in the series), I mentioned that I had a hard time tracking what happened at the […]

    2. […] books are great — and you can read why I thought so in one convenient entry over at Active Voice. Category(s): books, reviews Tag(s): 2010 books read, YA […]

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