Middle Grade

The Forbidden Library

The Forbidden Library #1 by Django Wexler
Published on:  April 15, 2014
3 stars

Forbidden Library

The Forbidden Library is about a girl named Alice who goes to live with her uncle Geryon, who then forbids her to enter a library, until of course, she does. Once that occurs, Alice’s world changes where she learns about magic, books, and the complexities of human (and not-human) motives.

Things I liked:
1) The pictures. How often do I read text in a book describing a landscape, or creature, or event. The mind immediately tries to create the image, but fails. Miserably fails. So, to have a picture every so often in the book show me what a Swarm looks like or a seeker is a breath of fresh air.

2) The endings and beginnings of certain chapters.
“Alice opened her eyes in another place entirely. It was dark after the brightness of Isaac’s fire…”
Is that the end of a chapter or the beginning of one? I don’t know, but it pleasantly caught me off guard.

Things I had Issues with:
When reading a book, you hope to be captivated enough that it takes you into another world and you get to live there for a chapter or two (or three) at a time. One method to accomplishing this is to flesh out secondary characters. What are they like? What do they do when no ones paying attention? What type of errands do they run? When they are in the same scene that the main character is in, what are they doing and what are they emoting? But a secondary character to me can also be the background of the town being lived in, the house, the scenery, a dog next door that barks too loud. These secondary characters are often what I find makes a house a home. Unfortunately, that is what I felt was missing in this book. Although there are secondary characters, you don’t really get to know them too well. As a result, there really aren’t any side stories. Nothing there that would about take me away from the primary plot and help me to understand or love or hate or appreciate the world around the main character and the plot. Time that helps the reader and the story to breath a little. Everything was about Alice and getting her through the main plot as well as what she needed to complete the main plot.

But now I wonder…Perhaps the other main issue I had regarding the book is due to or because of the lack of secondary character development. Perhaps, it is not – I am still debating. The debate is in regards to never knowing who the good or bad guys are. I never knew who to root for or who Alice could count on and somehow that really bothered me. I never could trust any character outside of Alice. I mean, I expect to not be certain of some characters, but at the end of the day I realized I was never really confident of any of them. It was as if I was riding a bike, but with a tire needing more air. She made friends and enemies, but I never trusted them. I appreciate that the secondary characters could be written as ‘grey’ – all with multiple ambitions, desires, personalities, but as a reader I tend to want to have more than just the main character on solid ground. In the end, that’s what I think bothered me most.

The book and the story aren’t bad. I just didn’t fall in love. I may read the next book, but then again I’m not sure if I really will. Time will tell.

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