18 maio 2011

Review: Guardian of the Dead

Publisher: Little Brown (2010)
Format:  Hardcover | 330 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Description (Goodreads): "Set in New Zealand, Ellie's main concerns at her boarding school are hanging out with her best friend Kevin, her crush on the mysterious Mark, and her paper deadline. That is, until a mysterious older woman seems to set her sights on Kevin, who is Maori, and has more than just romantic plans for him. In an effort to save him, Ellie is thrown into the world of Maori lore, and eventually finds herself in an all-out war with mist dwelling Maori fairy people called the patupaiarehe who need human lives to gain immortality.
The strong, fresh voice of the narrator will pull readers in, along with all the deliciously scary details: the serial killer who removes victim's eyes; the mysterious crazy bum who forces a Bible on Ellie telling her she needs it; handsome, mysterious Mark who steals the Bible from her and then casts a forgetting charm on her. All of this culminates in a unique, incredible adventure steeped with mythology, Maori fairies, monsters, betrayal, and an epic battle."
Warning: Contains Spoilers
Another rather welcome breath of fresh air in the YA Urban Fantasy world, "Guardian of the Dead" was a fast, interesting read.

Ellie Spencer transferred to a boarding school when her parents decided to go on a trip around the world. Even if she had to leave her old world behind, Ellie has done good for herself as she's even friends with one of the most popular guys in school. Her life is pretty typical and tragedies like the gruesome murders happening all over New Zealand seem distant... until strange things also start happening near her.

Sounds like your typical YA Urban Fantasy? Well, it's not exactly. First of all there's Ellie; she is different from most female protagonists as she is admittedly not fit and she's too tall and unfeminine (or so she says). Usually heroines are skinny and fashionable even when they're not 'popular' so Ellie seemed much more real to me. I mean it would be great if everyone could be model-like (or not), but that's not the reality. And although Ellie wasn't perfect and she had her moments of self-doubt, she also accepted herself, which I thought it was great. I liked the overall portrayal of teenagers in this book. It was, again, more realistic than in most YA books.

The story was slow to start and at first the supernatural elements were scarce. Then the author decided to have Ellie and Mark (the male lead) conduct a weird info-dump session that, granted, explained a lot... but left people who've never heard of New Zealand's myths (like me) a bit confused. I felt like I needed more information since those stories were new to me. The reader is plunged into the world of Maori Mythology and some concepts are not properly explained.

Also, there were parts of the story that seemed quite open to the reader's interpretation... I didn't quite get if the Maori myth was the true Creation myth or if myths in general only gained power through people's belief. I think it's the second option, but I'm not really sure because the author didn't made it very clear. She also didn't expand on the magic system in her world.

So, basically, the author had a phenomenal idea and I loved the story and Ellie too, but I felt there were parts that could have been better developed and/or explained.

Still I recommend this book to everyone who wants to read something different in the YA Urban Fantasy genre.

3 comentários :

Ana C. Nunes disse...

I hadn't heard of this book, burt it seems intersting enough, especially if the protagonist is as you say.

Does it have a lot of romsnce? because I'm getting a little tired of the soapy romance in most teen books (especially when the guy is Oh so Misterious and cold).

cuidadocomodalmata disse...

Uau! YA Urban Fantasy com traços de originalidade :o este livro é um unicórnio!

~jen

slayra disse...

Ana: No, not a lot of romance, but Mark is misterious some of the time. :D But he is not perfect and the ending is... unusual. :D

Jen: Yep. Tens Maori lore que aparentemente é uma mistura de contos orais com base nas histórias das tribos indonésias que se instalaram na Nova Zelândia. A autora explica um pouco sobre os mitos no final.
Enquanto mito de Criação é parecido com o de muitas outras culturas, mas mesmo assim a autora explora o tema bastante bem. :D