Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: Madness Underneath

EDIT: Well this is a first, apparently this is part of a four book series, not a trilogy as I originally thought, so I'm having to change some things in the The Bad section. Doesn't change my feelings on the book but obviously if the series isn't a trilogy I can't refer to it as such!

 In case anyone is confused, I'm switching the book and manga reviews up this week since I only had a chance to grab manga/comics from the not-so-local-library on Wednesday, was sick on Thursday for a lot of the day, and just haven't had a chance to read anything beyond the second volume of Swan yet (and since it's been so long since I talked about the first volume I didn't feel like I would write a very good review). However, I have read this book, the sequel to 2011's The Name of the Star which was one of my favorite books that year and I've been dying (ha-ha, it's a book about ghosts) to read it since it was released in February and can certainly talk about that instead. However, much like Swan, while I remember the plot I had a hard time remembering some details about the individual characters which is never a good sign....

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Summary: It's only been about a month since the American Rory was attacked and nearly killed by an ex-British-policeman-ghost-hunter (who was a ghost himself) at her London school and while she's not exactly eager to go back she's not happy where she is now either. But it appears that the British police have gotten wind of what else happened during the attack, namely that Rory has gone from someone who can simply see ghosts to someone who can kill them with a touch, and they want her back in London, and Rory isn't too happy about any of that. 

The Good: I still rather like Rory as a character, even though she does a lot of things I thought were dumb (and would have thought were dumb at her age) and I was surprised at how much I liked the London group as well, I hadn't remembered that. I was also happy that the story didn't immediately drop the school aspect of Rory's life or pretend that she could miss a month at a very high level school and still be doing fine in her classes, it was a touch of realism I don't often find in books of any genre and appreciated it.  

The Bad: I had some problems with how this book was laid out in regards to how it's going to fit into an entire series. There's no villain like there was in the first book until the very very end and, while that and another subplot might make for interesting conflict by the end, at this point they feel much less threatening than the villain of the first book which isn't generally how you're supposed to make it work. I was also hoping for a connection to the first book's villain which again, might happen in a later book (especially since the characters have mentioned how confused they were by the reveal and I doubt Johnson would have reminded the reader of that if she didn't plan to use it later on) but nothing happened here. And that's my overall problem with this story, it feels like the stereotype of the middle book in a series or trilogy, not much happens until the very end (where something happens that will make everything easier/harder for the main characters in the next book) and lacks both the plot and character development that the first book had. 

I was actually a bit less frustrated with the book before I, erm, laid out exactly why I was unhappy with it, but this was still a disappointing read none the less. I'm going to give it 2.5 out of 5 stars and hope that the third book, which I imagine will be out sometime next year, will be worth it.    

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