Enjoy this week’s second review!
The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey
By Chris Colfer
Summary: In the highly anticipated continuation of the Land of Stories series, Conner learns that the only place to fight the Masked Man’s literary army is inside his own short stories!
When the twins and their friends enter worlds crafted from Conner’s imagination, finding allies no one else could have ever dreamed of, the race begins to put an end to the Masked Man’s reign of terror. Can the twins finally restore peace in the fairy tale world? (via Goodreads)
This is the fifth instalment in Chris Colfer’s The Land of Stories series, and the second to last book in the series as of right now, so spoilers for the previous books may follow. You have been warned. Also, while this book had good bones and some high points in character introductions and developments for me, there will be more cons than pros, so if you are a die hard fan of this book, this is not the review for you.
- New Characters: The majority of this book takes place in Connor’s short stories, rather than the fairy tale world. Connor states early on in this series that his short stories and characters are based on his friends from the fairy tale world. Chris Colfer does a wonderful job highlighting the similarities between the people of Conner’s worlds and those from the Land of Stories (LoS), while still providing enough distinctions to make them interesting. One of my favorite parts of reading this book was guessing which LoS character or fairy tale inspired each of Connor’s stories.
- Development of the Main Plot: I can’t say too much without spoiling anything, but I enjoyed the fact that, in spite of Colfer spending most of his time on the twins adventures gathering the literary army, he did not ignore the LoS plot points set up in the last book. Although, in my opinion, one of the resolutions was a cop out, at least it was resolved.
- Unnecessary Plots: While Colfer did wrap up existing plots from book four, the way in which he did it made this book feel like a dumping ground to advance the plot and tie up every loose end he could think of in order to set the stage for book six. It’s like he suddenly remembered the real world characters, (whom I don’t particularly care about, at this point) and felt an inexplicable urge to force their arcs into this already jam-packed storyline because he had nowhere else to put them. It made the book drag and simultaneously feel incredibly jumbled. Which brings me to…
- Pacing: Over the course of this book, the twins travel into and solve the problems of four or five different short stories, make a pit stop in the mortal world, put on a play at a children’s hospital, and encounter evil witches, yet the LoS is still in shambles from the Masked Man by the end, if not in worse condition. Nothing of substance has been accomplished except a congregation of new and old characters as they gear up for battle. I almost would’ve rather read Connor’s short stories as companion books like The Curvy Tree, and cut right to the action of taking back the LoS.
- The Ending: I can’t possibly explain this without spoiling it, so if you intend to read this book and don’t want to know they ending, SKIP THIS SECTION….
For those still here, the ending was by far my least favorite thing about this entire book. Not because it’s a cliffhanger, but because, even for a series about a dimension of storybook characters, it was incredibly outlandish and far fetched.
- A congregation of witches wants to overthrow the storybook villains and seize the real world along with the LoS. Fine. That’s a pretty standard takeover plan; they always want more, no matter how much they already have.
- To do this, they target Alex, because they know she is powerful and can lead them into the mortal world. Again, logical enough for a villainous plot in this fantasy universe: turn a hero evil.
- One of the witches ventures into the mortal world and sprinkles magic dust from the shards of a mirror onto Alex so that depression and anger overwhelms her. She can no longer see the good in the world, making it easier for the villains to recruit her. Getting a bit out there, but I can deal with it.
- The dust affects her so dramatically that she causes enough destruction for the President of the United States to take notice. Um… What? No. Just no. My ability to suspend my disbelief has been shattered into a million pieces.
In my opinion, the hardest thing about writing fantasy series that are connected to the mortal world is finding the right balance of realism within the plots, and sadly, I don’t think Colfer was able to accomplish that here. With this book, the series has gone from being a charming and whimsical journey of two twins discovering that their childhood fantasies are real, to a series of magical crises that have the potential to wreak havoc of epic proportions on the mortal world. I will be picking up the sixth and final book next year, but only because I’ve come too far in the series not to see it through to it’s conclusion. I hope it gets better from here.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 stars Recommended for fans of the Land of Stories series.
Book Recommendation: The Sisters Grimm Series by Michael Buckley
Summary (Book 1): For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, life has not been a fairy tale. After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, the sisters are sent to live with their grandmother–a woman they believed was dead! Granny Relda reveals that the girls have two famous ancestors, the Brothers Grimm, whose classic book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files of magical mischief. Now the girls must take on the family responsibility of being fairy tale detectives. (via Goodreads)