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Australian Spec-Fic Authors Challenge 2014 – July Round-Up

trouble twistersA few months back the lovely Shaheen at Speculating On Spec-Fic ran a competition giving away a set of four books. For ages I’ve been wanting to read a Garth Nix book, but always ended up reading other stuff. The give away was offering the first four books of the Troubletwisters series, written by Garth Nix and Sean Williams (a double dose of Aussie authors!) so I entered and won!

Unfortunately, I’m not the target market for this series. This series is aimed at middle grade readers and I’m in my thirties, but I figured there’s been more than a few YA titles I’ve loved, so I might as well read them.

Before I start in on what I didn’t like let me assure you, there was plenty I did like, the only problem was, I had to wade through approximately 100 pages of one of my fiction pet peeves: the trope of the protagonist being kept in the dark by others with no more of a reason than the plot isn’t ready to divulge it yet.

‘Not now,’ says Grandma X.

‘Here, drink some memory erasing hot chocolate,’ she says.

‘You’ll find out when you’re ready to know.’

Are you kidding me? Please tell me I’m not the only person who hates this particular literary device. At the end of the book the reader is given a bit more of an answer as to why secrets couldn’t be revealed earlier, but even that answer is not very satisfying and it reeks of  the author needing a reason to have done it so coming up with a reason.  The book even ends with the twins being told there will be more non-answers in the future for the same frigging reason and I wanted to beat my head against the wall. No. None of that for me please.

Because of these non-answer shenanigans the first hundred or so pages plodded along, then we even got a dose of the old ‘thinking the person obviously helping you is a bad guy’ move. This is all right in my opinion if the reader genuinely thinks they might be a bad guy, but when the character is blatantly helping (despite being a douche about answering questions) it feels rather cheap.

Now to the good stuff. Once the action kicks in things get good. The slow lack of plot becomes a quick moving river of action and a certain amount of velocity kicks in. I’m certain I read the last two thirds in half the time it took me to read the first third. The kids start actually taking action to look for answers since Grandma X is the weird queen of being evasive, then doing something question provoking right in front of them. Actual problems kick in and things get really quite fun.

There was also some nice set up for a few things in up-coming books(or what looks like it at least), which promises some fun and pain.

The powers of the various gifted in the story (I particularly love the father) and overall ideas in the story are really cool concepts, and I can see this being something the target audience could really get into. If they can get past the start – which I feel might be even more maddening to them since it’s kids being told no by adults. Or perhaps they’ll sympathise and things will go swimmingly.

For my August read I’ll be jumping headfirst into Kaleidoscope(I’ve raved about how much I wanted this book to exist in this post) since it just arrived in the mail today 🙂

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