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Series Still Going Strong

December 23, 2016

It’s hard to escape series fiction, especially if you enjoy reading fantasy and mysteries and other genres as much as I do. That’s especially true in the YA markets. It seems like every book that catches my eye is “Book One in the Something-or-Other Series” or worse yet, “Book Three in the Something Or Other Series” (and now I have to go read the first two if I want any clue what’s going on).

On some level, I’m still kind of mad that The Name of the Star launched a series. I enjoyed it as a self-contained novel, and subsequent installments ended on a few cliffhangers that made me make a spectacle of myself on public transit, making noises that could best be described as “strangled Muppet cries of outrage.”

Sometimes, I get lucky, and the series stays engrossing and fun to read.

But then I’m not sure what to do on the reviewing side. A review of the next book in the series could pretty much amount to:

“Still good, with new adventures and deepening friendships for the characters I liked in the last book. Plus a few new characters and twists I’m enjoying and didn’t see coming. You should read this entire series. Because it’s terrific. Start with the first book and keep going.”

Which doesn’t make for a very lengthy blog post. And could get repetitive across the various series where it holds true.

So… I guess this post is a roundup of some love for later books in series I’ve enjoyed recently, and I’m glad to see going strong.

Cover Image, The Hammer of Thor by Rick RiordanI was fortunate enough to snag the second Magnus Chase book by Rick Riordan from the library almost right after I finished the first. The Hammer of Thor continued Magnus’s adventures with Sam the Valkyrie, Hearth the Elf and Blitzen the Dwarf, saving the world from Loki’s schemes and holding off Ragnarok. I giggled my way through what I’d enjoyed from the first book, sarcasm, snark and pop culture references woven along with Norse mythology into the adventure. Also, I really enjoyed the introduction of a new character, Alex, who’s clearly going to keep making things interesting in future installments. (Being less vague about Alex would be a huge spoiler about what the character’s like.) I like how the team dynamic is evolving as much as I enjoy the adventures themselves. These are big, chunky books but super-fast, fun reads. Can’t wait for the next one.

Cover image, Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter, Jackaby novelI have had Ghostly Echoes, the latest in the Jackaby series by William Ritter, queued up on my Kindle for ages and ages, and I finally got around to reading it. I’m sorry I put it off for so long. It’s great to see Abigail coming into her own, taking an active role in solving a mystery that had all sorts of ghoulish, atmospheric touches. Petty vendettas, a big, sprawling conspiratorial mystery, a ghost… And a duck. There’s a duck. It makes sense in context. Mostly. Like the Magnus Chase books, I’m reasonably certain that the Jackaby series is being marketed to middle-grade readers, but I can vouch for both sets of books being fun to read at easily twice the target age.

Cover image, The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman, Invisible Library Book 3With a similar, baroque steampunk feel, the next book in the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman, The Masked City, made a good read to follow up my Jackaby adventures. The second installment has Kai kidnapped, a plot twist very much complicated by the fact that he’s a dragon from a powerful family. Irene has to journey into an alternate-Venice, steeped in the atmosphere of the Renaissance, racing against time to save her friend, and keep the dragon factions and the Fae from going to war. It took a while for the action to get going, but I appreciated the attention to setting up a really twisting plot. Also, I enjoyed the way that story and archetype wove in and became plot devices in themselves. In Cogman’s world, the Fae’s construction of their own narrative is both their strength and their weakness, and pulls everyone around them into it. The way that played out over the course of this adventure was quite satisfying to my love of meta and commentary.

Hoping that the coming year brings me new books in these, and some of my other favorite series, like the Young Wizards and Billy Boyle.

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