I had some serious reservations after finishing The Power of Six a while back so it’s taken me a while to talk myself into picking up The Rise of Nine. Ultimately, after having to read so much Literature (yes, with a capital “L”), I was ready to dive back into the world of YA science fiction/fantasy. I remember moderately enjoying the first book of the series and I don’t like leaving things unfinished so I though it was time to give the Lorien Legacies another chance. I found out I’m glad I waited because I’m still undecided.
Picking up right where the last book left off, The Rise of Nine brings more members of the Garde together with more and bigger battles than before. There’s a lot of action but not a lot of chemistry as the cast of characters gets a little out of hand. The absence of former favorite characters tried this reader’s patience and much of the plot felt like filler, designed to stall things for character development that didn’t go beyond a superficial level.
Extending the multiple narrative threads of The Power of Six was a mistake for this book, at least in the format it was presented. Told from the perspectives of Four, Six, and Seven, the constant shifting of narrative was confusing. Their voices weren’t distinctive enough to tell through whose eyes the reader was viewing events. There wasn’t even a name or number at the start of each chapter to just tell the reader at the start. This was especially confusing when it came to Six and Seven since they spend a great deal of the book together.
I think the switching was meant to help pace the book but I found that it failed to give the reader a break long enough to process the many action-filled fight sequences, the new information about Lorien and its foes, or the new characters. It also made it really difficult to mark the passage of time. There is a considerable distance between Four who spends most of the book in the US, and Six and Seven, who are half-a-world away in India. Yet it’s difficult to tell how many days have passed for either. Four seems to have gone through a week’s worth of days while the Six and Seven passages seem to only cover two or three days.
Maybe the story would have been better served if it took an approach more like Lord of the Rings, following one set of characters for a while and then switching to catch up with the others until they finally come back together. It would make things clearer and I think would give the series a more epic feel instead of just a lot of hurrying around. I haven’t read the Lost Files that go along with the series, but they sound like the appendices that accompanied the Lord of the Rings books, filling in the blanks and providing depth to the worlds and characters created.
Over all, I thought that The Rise of Nine answered a lot of the concerns I had after finishing The Power of Six as far as the over-arching plot is concerned, but the writing and execution of the story were worse. It will take me a while before I try The Fall of Five, but now I just want to see if a proper balance can be struck. I seem to have stopped reading for the story and have started reading to see the evolution of the author’s writing and structure (but definitely sticking with the library for this series, from here on out; not worth shelling out money).