The Rivers of Zadaa (Pendragon) by D J MacHale
|The Rivers of Zadaa (Pendragon) by D J MacHale|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A return to the vaguely Egyptian world of Zadaa for Earth's heroic young Traveller, but the brand new adventure set there carries perhaps too much deja vu for this to be the series' best.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: March 2009|
|Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books|
Don't get me wrong - I never mean to disparage a book when I convert its mood, plot or impression into a two or three word comparison with something else. So if I say there is a lot here that boils down to Eloi vs Morlock, it's to point out I'm quite sure our author has knowledge of The Time Machine, in book or on film, and wanted to do something a little similar. And the key word is 'little' - there's a lot that's Machale's own here in the balance between his two races. One is above ground, one a lot paler for being subterranean, and the battleground between the two - played out on and under the desert capital city on Zadaa, in a heated time of drought, is perfect for the big bad, Saint Dane, to get his claws into.
Saint Dane is some kind of demon intent on coming across territories at a crucial time in their history and creating chaos. Bobby Pendragon is some kind of average American high school kid, introduced to the multiverse called Halla, and the 'flumes' he can ride to go from one planet to another and try and prevent the end of life as we know it.
To go back to my reductio ad absurdum topic, fans of the series will have this one down as the one with a bit of love in the air for Bobby, with a lot of self-defense training, with deeper moral issues and a bigger personal threat to the body and character of our hero. It is one with a lot more questions asked than answers provided. In the sections set on our Earth it's the one where a cliff-hanger has been coming most blatantly for a book and a half, but it's one that is still so warmly welcomed that we can only go oooh! in a sing-song voice, lick our lips and itch to read on (or you do if you're like me). It is, then, yet another with the series' usual high standard in writing, most lively action scenes, and most gritty character quandaries.
It is, unfortunately, also the one with a little that is too familiar, having freshly read the fifth book in the series. There is, again, a mention of disease, and a balance of two different races combatting each other due to their bigotry, hidden resources causing starvation and stifling, and so on. The balance between the tribes is different enough, and the way Bobby and co have to go to the rescue is again different, but if this author wasn't so good at the first person narrative and putting us each and every book into a freshly realised and fully rounded world, we might be suffering too much deja vu.
Still, there does seem to be a template Machale is following, and as I think he can do better, it is tempting to say, as welcome as his books remain, he might have given this book a more individual pattern. I wouldn't be surprised if the zany form of transport arrived in the plot at the exact same juncture as last time. But for now this series does not outstay its welcome, and the blatant clues as to an adventure set a little closer to home (the USA, of course) are pointing to something most intriguing and stirring.
My familiarity with the set-up is making it harder for me to tell, but there seemed little work needed for the newcomer to fit into the series at this point, if they need to. There is a lot they will have missed out on, however. For that reason, and for the slight repeat, this entry in the cycle gets four stars for all.
Our thanks must go to the publishers for our review copy.
I started reading this series with The Reality Bug, which was slightly more sci-fi, but a sign of the qualities to come. If you've exhausted this Pendragon series, we can recommend another sterling series of cliffhangers beginning with The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Rivers of Zadaa (Pendragon) by D J MacHale at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Rivers of Zadaa (Pendragon) by D J MacHale at Amazon.com.
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