Now here’s a post that I’ve been doing my best to avoid writing. I reviewed Edsel Grizzler Book One: Voyage to Verdada a while back (see Catching up with Edsel Grizzler), and I followed it up by doing a two-part interview with its author James Roy (see Catching up with James Roy and More James Roy). In those posts I mentioned how much I was looking forward to reading and reviewing books two and three. Well, I did enjoy reading them very much, but I’m not going to enjoy reviewing them. Why? Because, despite liking them a great deal, I didn’t think they were quite as good as book one.
Okay, let’s start with the plot. Book Two: Rescue Mission involves Edsel returning to the mysterious land of Verdada which he left at the end of book one. Something has gone terribly wrong. It is no longer a land of “forever fun”. The mysterious Mira who had controlled Verdada have gone, and a boy named Ben has taken over. But Ben is not quite how Edsel remembers him from his previous visit. Edsel ends up setting off on a mission to retrieve his friend Jacq, who has passed on to another mysterious place called Widen.
In Book Three: Ghostly Shadows, Edsel and Jacq end up in a place called Grand City, home to the mysterious Mira. Here they find out the truth of what has happened to Verdada and a plan is formulated to restore order. Edsel must return to Verdada alone, for only he can set things right.
Let me start off by saying that these two books are as inventive and engaging as the first. Edsel and the other characters are believable and interesting, and the story exciting. I particularly loved Edsel’s interaction with his adoptive parents in book two. The awkward moments and the emotions feel genuine. Those scenes are a joy to read. The character of Ben is also convincingly developed as he is taken in a very different direction from the first novel. The conclusion wraps things up nicely while still retaining a sense a mystery. All good!
My problem with these two books is a structural one. They felt like one book artificially divided and slightly padded out. I can’t help but wonder if this was a decision based purely on the popularity of the trilogy format, rather than on what the story required.
Book one was a complete story with an epilogue that teased the reader with the possibility of more to come. Not so with book two. I was really enjoying it, when suddenly I came to the end… but the story wasn’t finished. There was no closure. So I moved on to book three, and while I did enjoy it, there were scenes that I felt dragged on too long — particularly in the journey from Widen to Grand City and then the stay in Grand City.
Reaching the end of book three, I thought to myself how much better it could have been if the two books had been joined together and tightened up.
Now, having said that, please don’t let me put you off reading these books… Because they are so definitely worth reading. As I mentioned in my earlier review, book one is pretty damn brilliant. And books two and three are still VERY good. My advice would simple be to read the latter two together, as if they were one book.
Has anyone out there read these books? If you disagree with my assessment (after all, what the hell do I know?), please feel free to berate me in the comments section below.
Catch ya later, George
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