Monday, March 24, 2008

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness 2: The Good Stuff

The best feature of Andrew Peterson's On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is probably its emphasis on family unity. The Igibies stick together, and it isn't just out of tackiness. It would be nice if they had a bit more respect for each other, but on the whole it's like the Waltons or Little House on the Prairie, only with giant, homicidal, reptilian humanoids. Despite her walking handicap, Leeli is prone to wander off, and she generally does it much faster than her brothers can handle despite their superior running speed. But they always go looking for her and try to protect her against whatever she's encountered.

The humor is the second-best feature. (I know you thought I'd say it was best; consider this an early April Fool.) Humor of this sort is tricky, and some gags work better than others. The footnotes are a bit overdone, for example, but the book references generally succeed, especially those involving Oskar Reteep, my favorite character. One of the best examples occurs when Janner and Tink are helping Oskar sort some new books. They read off the title and author, and Oskar tells them where to file the book:

"The Sound of Sidgebaw, by...Riva Twotoe," Tink read.
"Ah, a fine work. Very rare. File under SITTING UTENSILS, there in the corner, see?" Oskar said.
"I Came and I Wept Like the Sissy I Am, by Lothar Sweeb," Janner said.
"Sweeb, Sweeb...yes, a mediocre talent, but very prolific. File under BACON SONGS, just behind the lampstand there."
"Bonked[,] by Phiksam Ponkbelly."
"GARDENING. Excellent book." (p. 76)

There's also some good suspense. In fact, sometimes a little too good: there's a scene (perhaps two) near the end that will probably be a bit much for younger readers, though all ends well. I'd go into more detail, but I don't want to ruin any surprises. If I do anyway, I'll join Oskar in saying, "In the words of the famed shoe burglar Hanwyt Moor, 'I'm so sorry. It won't happen again.'" (p. 140)

Tomorrow: the problems and my final recommendation for or against.

Other links that are probably more informative:
Sally Apokedak
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Green
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Pamela Morrisson
John W. Otte
Deena Peterson
Steve Rice
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise


Christopher Hopper said...

I hate to re-post a comment, but you you pointed out something another blogger did and I felt it was worth repeating (for both of us)...

I thought it was terribly interesting that you pointed out the focus on family--a fantastic Andrew's element to his writing.

It's surprising to me how when people, most notably, Christians, ask me for my opinions about well-known secular YA authors, they're wanting me to comment on ties to the occult or anti-Christian content. Funny thing is, the occult is the least worrying element to me! Issues that seem to stir generationally independent concepts, lying to adults, family division and sibling antagonism are far more dangerous in my opinion!

Family obviously means a lot to Andrew and you can tell.

Well said.


Steve said...

Where the occult actually occurs, it is a serious concern. But we tend to look for it too eagerly sometimes. He who seeks, finds--even if what he seeks is imaginary.

So the magic in the Potter books didn't bother me; the emphasis on ghosts did. The anti-Christian element in Pullman's books was real, and though his reasoning was childish and silly, great evil can come from such things.

But it troubles me that in Christian fiction I see children lying to parents and other kinds of unethical behavior, and they're accepted as normal. All sin is wrong, but some forms are more insidious than others.

Robert Treskillard said...

Steve! Great posts ... I really enjoyed your review and will check back tomorrow to see your final verdict.

You obviously have a handle on humor and suspense yourself!

Gene Curtis said...

"children lying to parents and other kinds of unethical behavior, and they're accepted as normal."

Kids lie and do all kinds of unethical things. How it is dealt with is what is important.

Powered by WebRing.