Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: The Fall by Garth Nix

Title: The Fall
Author: Garth Nix
Series: The Seventh Tower
Pages: 208
Publisher: Scholastic
Date Published: July 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy (MG)
Source: Previously owned

Tal has lived his whole life in darkness. He has never left his home, a mysterious castle of seven towers. He does not see the threat that will tear apart his family and his world. But Tal cannot stay safe forever. When danger strikes, he must desperately climb the Red Tower to steal a Sunstone. He reaches the top...and then he falls into a strange and unknown world of warriors, ice ships, and hidden magic. There Tal makes an enemy who will save his life —and holds the key to his future.

My Review:
I really love this series. It is an absolutely fantastic, completely original fantasy series hand crafted for Middle Grade readers. lol...that was a mouthful wasn't it? A world where light is kept from the earth by the veil, a shadowy boarder thousands of feet in the air. No one knows why it's there, it just always has since the creation of the castle. It's such a cool concept and I've never really heard anything like it. One of the best things about this series is that even though it's a MG series, it is creepy and dark. A lot of authors are afraid of scaring kids, but speaking from experience, the darker the better. The lack of cool and creepy things in the children's section is what drove me from the kid's section to the teen section and eventually to Stephen King when I was like...12.

Tal is kind of an insufferable prick of a main character if you know what I mean. Of course, he's meant to be that way because he has been raised in the ignorance of the castle for his entire life. He has been bred to believe that he is superior to the Underfolk and that class is everything. Everything he's ever known is called into question when he realizes that there is life outside of the castle and not everyone will submit to the Chosen's will. It was particuarly hilarious to see how wimpy he was compared to Milla and the other Icecarls. Milla was by far the stronger of the two in this book, but she was no less stubborn or set in her ways than Tal was. She is also kind of annoying because she's definitely not a talker and when she does have something to contribute it's either about killing or becoming a Shield Maiden. I would have really liked to see Milla and Tal bond a little bit, but at this point it seems like they hate each other with every fiber of their beings.

I did feel that some of the descriptions of this world were a little bit shaky or quick. In keeping the book at the level of a younger reader it seems that Nix has reduced descriptions to a few sentences for each character and monster that exists in the world of the Towers. Things like Borzogs...which are supposedly terrifying, get only a vague shaping so you can't be properly terrorized by the idea of these things which could be so scary. Without the time to learn the characters and what they looked like, I found myself becoming confused and lost by which creature was which and what I needed to know about each.

The light magic in this story is so cool it's hard for me to describe it accurately. I first read this series when I was much younger and can still remember the chills I got when I read it. Tal's world was so amazing to me with it's plays of light and shadow and I loved the idea of manipulating them to create magic...I can't believe that no one has really done the kind of wonders that Nix does with his light magic. The Chosen can literally weave anything out of light. They can make music, heal themselves, create solid staircases of light...pretty much everything they can think of they can make. It was so amazing to read about Tal's competition and challenges because the story is interwoven with this beautiful imagery of all the different colors of the rainbow. I also liked how the classes were based on rank of the color in the spectrum of light. It made me laugh to see ROYGBIV in a context outside of science
I give The Fall 3.5 Keys. Garth Nix creates an amazing and original world, not only in this series, but in every other book he creates. He uses basic elements such as light, sound, actual elements (earth, fire, etc) and time to create worlds that are impossible to ignore. Nix is truly one of the greatest in the Fantasy genre, especially for middle grade, preteen, and young-adults...though the YA leans definitely to the younger side of that scale. I hate cliffhanger endings, and though this wasn't one of those books that leave you in a dead panic and won't let you sleep at night until you know the ending, there definitely was too much of an open ending to keep me happy. This series is geared for a much younger audience than Nix's Old Kingdom series (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, etc) but it is still worth the read.

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