Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: Aenir by Garth Nix

Title: Aenir
Author: Garth Nix
Series: The Seventh Tower #3
Pages: 233
Publisher: Scholastic
Publishing Date: January 1st 2001
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Bought

The dream world Aenir is not a safe place. One wrong step can lead to danger, entrapment...or death. Tal and Milla must fight their way through this shifting landscape. They are searching for the Codex, a magical object that will decide the fate of their worlds. Many creatures stand in their way--from the cloud-flesh Storm Shepherds to a swarm of venomous Waspwyrms to a horrifying figure named Hazror. Tal and Milla cannot leave Aenir without the Codex. But finding it might endanger them more than they've ever dreamed...

My Review:
I loved all of the additional fantasy aspects in this book.Don't get me wrong, the first two had lots of different fantastical plots and beasts and what-not, but the journey into the spirit world and Milla and Tal's adventures within have a definite supernatural aspect that was missing in the first two. I particularly liked the storm shepherds and the creature in the lake who told riddles to trap passers-by. Of course the storm shepherds were a little disappointing as Shadowspirits. You think that Tal would get this amazingly terrifying one but he gets stuck with the incompetent and blundering shepherd...kind of makes you feel bad for the kind...but I was really impressed and intrigued by Aenir in a way that I wasn't by the Shadow world. It was like Alice in Wonderland mixed with Pokemon and added a dash of the dangerous and the deadly.

There was a lot of character development in this book, especially compared to the first books in the series. Tal still needs some more work, as he tends to be kind of wishy-washy and still has his superiority complex. (You think that would have stopped after Milla saved his life like 8 times...) But Milla especially learns to grow when she realizes that hers and Tal's ancestors actually collaborated on something and that she doesn't know everything about the world or even about her own culture. It was cool to see her stop being so pig-headed and start to use her mind a bit more. I also really liked that Tal and Milla were separated for a large part of this book. It led for individual growth that I doubt could have happened if they had each other. In fact they probably would have killed each other if they hadn't had the time apart. However, when they got back together you could really see how much they had changed and the fact that they understood each other a lot better. I really liked how they were forced to work together at the end. Though they had been forced to work together for the entire series, you can really see them start to mesh together in a way that really makes you want to root for them.

The Codex was such a cool element to the story! You know that Milla and Tal are looking for it before this book, but in this book you realize that the Codex actually has it's own intelligence and it adds a whole new aspect to the book where you don't know if it's intentions are good or sinister. I remember being SO freaked out by it when I first read the series as a kind because of how it could control the minds of the animals and creatures in Aenir. I love how it seems to know everything and could quite possibly be the key that Milla and Tal need to save their families, clans, etc. I will say that every time I read Codex, I couldn't help but think of a giant Pokedex...I know...I'm a freak...I can't help it...I was a 90's kid :)

I was a little let down by the lack of real plot in this book. True you see a lot of character development and cool creatures, but basically the only thing that happens is that Tal and Milla find the codex. As much as the series seems to be dumbed down for children, I still think kids can handle a lot more than was given in this book. I mean, I don't remember being bored by it as a kid, but definitely as an older reader I was left wanting more. I really like this world and the magic and interweaving plots that Nix has created, but this book just didn't give me the information I wanted to learn. I also am getting frustrated at the lack of answers from the previous books. Master Sushin is this huge obstacle that keeps popping up and putting challenges and trials in Tal's way but we are no closer to knowing what he is and why he's tormenting Tal than we were in the Fall (book 1). I love villains. They are usually my favorite characters because of how freaky and complex they are...when it comes to Sushin, he falls flat because he just hasn't had the screen time he deserves.
I give Aenir 3.5 Keys. Altogether, the series is compelling, interesting, and a really cool magical world...but split up into such small books just leaves the series wide open to being criticized. There often emphasis placed on certain aspects of the story (plot, character development, setting, etc) in one book. For example, Castle really developed the plot as we found out much more about the Chosen and what Tal and Milla's mission had to be. In Aenir, the focus is more on setting as we are amazed by the fantastic spirit realm. These things are all great, but without an equal amount of all kinds of description and development, the individual books seem to keep falling just a little flat. I would say that you should get all of the books in the series and read them straight through...that way you get none of the feeling of abandonment when you've finished a book and realized that nothing really happened...

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