Amulet: a review and reward

Posted by Anika

The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuchi is not being made into a film by Studio Ghibli (it is apparently being made into a film starring Willow and Jaden Smith!) but it resembles those stories: a plucky young heroine who stumbles into a magical world. It’s a little bit Spiderwick, a little bit Narnia, a little bit Nintendo. But I am generally of the opinion that being referential helps a story and in this case — where it is directed to the tween age group that embraces Ghibli, Spiderwick, Narnia, Nintendo — it elevates it in some ways. Starting with personal tragedy and moving quickly into a personal quest, we readers already know how to connect with and root for Emily, our plucky heroine.

Kibuchi’s writing is tight but it is his art that allows the story to take flight, and become something more than referential. It almost doesn’t need the words, the lines and colors tell us just as much or more. I’d recommend giving it a read through for that alone. I don’t want to say too much about what Emily and her little brother encounter because I think it is stronger if you read it yourself, but I do have to mention that there are robots in this story. Robots!

As I have said before, I love Young Adult Fiction. Probably more than my young adult daughter does. But I have handed off Amulet to her because I am always looking for something we can share. Kiki tends to like heroes where I like anti-hereoes, fantasy where I like sci-fi, and manga where I like superhero comics. Amulet is aimed a bit younger than her but it is closer to what Kiki tends to like, and I did like it, so I gave it to her. And we have five copies of the latest book in the series, The Last Council, to give five of you. All you have to do to enter is comment here with your favorite book when you were fifteen. To make it clear this is a judgement free zone, here is my answer: The Pandora Principle by Carolyn Clowes. It is a STAR TREK (TOS) novel that centers on Saavik, the young half-Vulcan, half-Romulan introduced in Star Trek II. I still, now, read it about once a year. My other favorite was (and is) Rilla of Ingleside, the last of the Anne Shirley books by L. M. Montgomery (Rilla is Anne’s youngest daughter).

So, as we say for Q&A, what about you? When you were fifteen what was your favorite book? Or if you are fifteen or younger, what is your favorite book now? Make sure to leave your name (or handle) and an email address I can contact you with if you win.

Prizes courtesy of Scholastic, Inc.

Posted by Anika
twitter: magnetgirl

  • I apologize in advance for this turning into a minor essay.

    This is a tough question for me. At some point I went from knowing my favorite books, movies and, TV shows with absolute certainty to having only impressions on the matter. When I was fifteen I was in between the two, with easily identifiable favorite authors, but harder to pinpoint favorite books. The one that probably was my favorite at that point judging from the number of times I read it that year was “Pawn of Prophecy” by the late David Eddings. “Pawn of Prophecy” is the first book of the Belgariad, a formulaic high-fantasy epic that I loved for its ability to embrace its formulaic nature and make the characters seem like they could be real people with the ability to be lighthearted and completely miss the obvious. Nobody who read the prologue could possible miss the significance of the main character and his family, but most of the characters manage to because its so difficult to recognize the extraordinary when it’s nearby. The five books of the series are difficult to judge separately, but the first one was the introduction and the most self-contained of the books, so it’s the one I would single out.

    A lot of people don’t like the Belgariad (or any of David Eddings’ books, for that matter) because of their previously mentioned highly formulaic fantasy epic nature, but I enjoyed the playful way he pulled it off and the fact that it didn’t turn into one of the grim, gory, brooding. long fantasy epics of Epic War between Good, Evil, and Grey that is absolutely Not Formulaic and Not Afraid To Kill Off Characters because Fantasy Is Serious. I did read and absolutely love some of those series at the time, but that seemed (and still seems) to be the trend in high fantasy and I can only take so much Dark And Brooding in my fiction before I have to go read something else and when I was fifteen, I was long over due to switch to something less weighty than Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth, and the most accursed New Jedi Order. Eddings’ fantasy was refreshing.

  • Gah, forgot to leave an e-mail:

  • Jenny Sessions

    from 8th grade on, I carried Lois McMaster Bujold’s Mirror Dance around with me everywhere. I sneaked it into my summer camp, which had a whole french language immersion rule about nothing written in English allowed. I really appreciated Mark’s mulish determined and painstaking failures over learning to be a whole adult human being. I needed his triumph at the selfsame task that faced me.