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The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler ARC {4 Stars}

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is a middle-grade story about a girl named Alice who stumbles into a world where reading books literally takes her to new worlds. Unfortunately, those worlds seem to frequently be filled with deadly beasts and the real world with ancient and heartless Readers doesn’t seem all that much better. The Forbidden Library pulled me in the second I saw the first illustration and I can’t wait for the sequel! The ARC I read didn’t actually have all the illustrations either, so I’m planning on buying the finished copy just so that I can go through and see all the ones that I missed; I’m that in love with these illustrations ;-).

Note: I received The Forbidden Library from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler ARC {4 Stars}

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on April 15th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 373 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

4 Stars

Strengths:

  • I mentioned the amazing illustrations right? The first one is actually of this creepy poison-sprite thing and I had to keep reading for a while after seeing that one before I could fall asleep! The creativity and inhuman-ness portrayed in these drawings is really phenomenal and I’m so pumped to see the rest in the final copy.
  • It’s really fortunate that there are illustrations in The Forbidden Library because the creatures that Wexler has come up with are way beyond the typical fantasy critters. The descriptions of these creatures evokes all sorts of great imagery as I tried to keep in mind that they weren’t the fantasy creatures I was used to, but I think the illustrations will really help with this, so get excited!
  • The magic system in The Forbidden Library involves encountering and defeating creatures in magic books in order to gain access to their power. I really liked the “gotta catch ’em all” feeling this brought, since the more creature powers you collect, the better powers you have :D. *gets out Nintendo games* >.>
  • Alice is a bookish MC, which is kind of a given since The Forbidden Library is about book magic, but she felt very fresh to me. She reminds me a bit of a young Hermione, which was fun, but she also has a cold streak to her that will be interesting to see developed. The things that she has gone through as a young girl have definitely started to have an effect on her sense of morality, which is intriguing to see in a young character.
  • While the plot of The Forbidden Library is fairly simplistic, there are a number of hints revealing that deeper things are going on and I have a lot of hope for the series as a whole. There are some ancient forces at work in The Forbidden Library and it looks like they are going to be far more interested in Alice than she probably would like.

Weaknesses:

  •  The magic system of The Forbidden Library is cool, but kind of immoral. In order to get a creature’s power, Alice has to literally kill it or force it to submit. She then can summon it at will and it has to follow her commands. There is a lot of talk among the intelligent bound creatures of just how similar this is to slavery of intelligent things and I just didn’t know how to feel in the end. I want to be excited about Alice gaining power and cool magic, but if it comes at the expense of her having to seek out and kill intelligent beings? That made me a bit uncomfortable and I hope that Alice realizes this isn’t a good way to go later in the series.
  • There aren’t many secondary characters that Alice really bonds closely with in The Forbidden Library. For one reason or another, things just don’t turn into solid friendships, which is one of those things I’ve come to expect from a middle-grade book ya know? In the end, I just felt lonely along with Alice and wished that she had at least one person she could actually rely on.
  • The Forbidden Library only barely brushes the surface of this magic system and I found myself a bit confused and wanting more information. There are prison books and portal books and perhaps other types of books? We briefly get to see how magic books are made, but it’s still a bit fuzzy. I kind of wished that Alice had had more time to learn even if it meant less time battling book monsters.

Summary:

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is a great fantasy middle-grade adventure and an exciting start to a new series. The magic system involving books is probably the biggest draw for most of us book lovers, but there is just so much to love! Wexler’s experience with the adult fantasy genre really shows with his creativity and unique characters, and I can’t wait to see where he takes this series.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya

 

 The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. Pokemon meets The Pagemaster? Yep, count me in! :D
    Kel recently posted…Updates: Second WinterMy Profile

  2. I feel horrible about the magic gain. Hell, even Pokemon has a way for you to make it up to your captured creatures.

    However, it does sound like a sweet novel! The cover is lovely as well. :)
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…BEA with Great Imaginations – Part One: Preparing for the ConferenceMy Profile

    • Right?? Pokemon you can choose to treat your buddies well and let them hang out and do their own thing, but in this one they literally don’t exist except when you summon them to fight :(

  3. Oh wow, another book I’d never heard about. You’re like a beacon of discovery today for me hehe! Anyways I adore the illustrations for this too and by the sound of it, it has creative ideas aplenty! I’m a little concerned about the magical system and how the MC has to make other beings submit to her though…I wonder how much it would actually bother me reading the book. I’m thinking since you really enjoyed it despite that I probably would too…but who knows! I’ll have to check it out and see ;-) Thanks for another lovely review ^^
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Early Review: A World Without PrincesMy Profile

    • I’m so amused by this comment given my Finding Diamonds in the Rough post, score! The slavery thing is an interesting aspect since it is pointed out that the Readers aren’t actually good people all that often, as opposed to the trope of magicians being pure good or pure evil or whatever, kind of refreshing really

  4. With regards to the magic system, do you feel the same way about Pokemon? I remember back in the day when the game got big, I thought the same thing – I mean, going out into the wild to capture creatures and bind them to your will to force them to fight for you, that’s like slavery AND animal abuse! It’s interesting that this book sort of reminded me of Pokemon, but I didn’t think of it the same way. Maybe because Pokemon have been around for so long to make me get used to the idea, or maybe it’s the fact the creatures in Alice’s prison books are painted as antagonists who would have killed her if she didn’t do what was required of her. I agree though, it would be a fascinating future theme to have Alice consider the morality of this system, especially once she grows closer to the creatures she controls.
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: The Copper Promise by Jen WilliamsMy Profile

    • That is such a good point about Pokemon and I honestly never realized it before! I think perhaps it’s the combination of the intelligence portrayed by these creatures versus Pokemon, though obviously some Pokemon do have human level intelligence. Maybe also it’s the joking portrayal of poke-balls being these awesome spas that the pokemon hang out in all day that got stuck in my childhood brain ;-)

  5. This one looks good, but I really want to read the author’s adult book. It featured gunpower and magic and I want it. And then I forget it. And then everyone has been reviewing this book and all I can think of is how I keep forgetting about that other one and should go track down a copy. But don’t.
    Nathan (@reviewbarn) recently posted…Fantasy Review: ‘The Towers’ by Jordan JeffersMy Profile

    • I totally hear you! I had an ARC that I borrowed from a friend and then I never got the chance to read it and now I’m kicking myself!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Mad Apprentice by Django Wexler is the sequel to The Forbidden Library, a story of a girl with the power to enter books, bind magical creatures to her, and summon their […]

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