The Case of the Missing Books
by Ian Sansom *
(I listened to this as audio book in Swedish.)
The introduction to this book sounded promising. An unlikely hero, a Jewish-English librarian with very little to put on his CV so far, has accepted a job in Ireland. When he arrives, he finds the library to be closed and his workplace supposed to be a mobile library bus. On top of that, all the books (15,000 of them) from the former library have mysteriously gone missing…
I think the idea has a lot of potential. However, the actual book did not impress me at all. The humour consists mainly of chicken manure and the ‘mystery’ did not really keep me in suspense either.
Actually I had a bit of a struggle deciding whether it was worth while finishing at all. I did listen to the end, eventually… Only to find afterwards that the book is the first in a series and there are at least three more to follow. I’m sorry, but I think I’ll rather go in search of some other 15,000 or so books I haven’t read first.
The False Prince (Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy)
by Jennifer A. Nielsen ***
I bought this Kindle ebook + the Whispersync Audible version at cheap daily deal price and alternated reading and listening. I did find it to be of page-turner kind. The Audible reading by Charlie McWade was also quite good – even if to my European ears, a more neutral (less distinctively American) accent would have suited this book better (as there were never any kings and princes in the United States).
The book has received many positive customer reviews both on Amazon and on Goodreads; and few negative ones. There are a few things that keep me from giving it more than three stars though.
Much of the pace and suspense of the book is kept up by clever dialogue and repartee between the characters. The rest is first person narrative, with the main character (an orphan boy called Sage) as narrator. This is cleverly done in some ways, but it also has its weaknesses. While part of me is itching to develop that point further, I’ll refrain from doing so. Just keep the narrative perspective in mind if you do read it!
One thing that keeps this story from becoming one of the really great ones (I think) is that there are only a handful of characters that stand out while the background remains hazy and lacking detail. The setting is vaguely medeival without neither magic nor references to “real” history (or geography) involved. There is a map at the beginning of the book but at least for this first part of the trilogy it does not really make much difference.
Classics that came to mind for me while reading, besides the stories of King Arthur, were Huckleberry Finn, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. I would not compare it to fantasy books like Harry Potter or Narnia or Lord of the Rings. It’s mostly boyish adventure but does include a hint of romance. The language is kept “clean” without seeming obviously censored. I’d not hesitate to recommend it to young teens.
While I can’t say I get an immediate desire to dive right into the next book to find out what happens next, I would probably buy it if it should turn up at cheap daily deal price. If not, I think I’ll put it through the Test of Time first. (If I look back on the title in a year or two from now, do I still remember it?)