Protagonists: Alex and Connor Bailey haven't been back to the Land of Stories in nearly a year, and when they get back things aren't quite as they had left them. One of the things I was hoping to get out of this installment was some serious character development in our two protagonist and while we do get that, it happens a lot less gradually than I would have liked. Maybe I missed the subtle hints, but regardless of whether or not there were hints these characters still developed way too quickly. For a large portion of the book they were how they were when we left them at the end ofThe Wishing Spell, however fairly close to the end there's a moment when they change and develop but it happens so fast that I had wished it would be more gradual and less like a spell had been cast upon them that forced them to mature a bit more (just to be clear that was a metaphor and not a spoiler.)
World-Building: I love how much more of this world we got to see. With a large focus on the villains of fairy tales we are treated to back stories and twists to the classic tales that we know and love. While some of these villains have nearly redeeming backstories there are others that are evil for the sake of being evil, I appreciated this mix because it's hard to believe that everyone at one point was good, or that no one is evil for evil's sake. While shades of gray exist so do black and white. My only complaint is that with seeing so many villains, it's hard to see who could oppose our heroes in future installments. There are more parallels to the Narnia books, which the characters even comment on, and believe it or not there is an appearance by a Narnian character, but that's all I'm saying for now. Another thing that this book does was take some fan favorite minor characters and give them a larger part in this new journey which makes for the most hilarious group of travelers you could ever think of.
Predictability: I was actually surprised with how surprised I could be with the twists of this installment. While there were moments that were fairly predictable there was one moment in particular that I was so utterly shocked, not only by the gravity of the revelation and the impact it had on the story, but also by the fact that the twist could have been fairly easily figured out if the pieces didn't seem so unrelated. There were a few other moments that weren't as shocking but still caught me by surprise, mainly because things never really worked out in the way I would have thought.
Ending: It wasn't until the very last sentence that I let out a breath of relief. Up until then I was so convinced that this series was going to be made into a duology, because up until then everything seemed to be ending. Not ending in the way the first book had, where a sequel may or may not happen, but a real, honest to God ending that no one could come back from. So up until the very last line I was scared that this series would end far before it's time. Luckily my fear was all for nothing as the last line delivers a very definitive answer as to whether a sequel would be written.
I may have loved this installment a bit more than the first one though I think that may just be my mind playing tricks on me as the first installment to this series was beyond amazing. I would highly, very highly, recommend this series to those who enjoy their favorite childhood stories being twisted and reinterpreted in fun and thought provoking ways.
Protagonists: Alex and Connor Bailey start out this book as the cliched "twins who couldn't be more different." While Alex is studious and tries very hard to be the teacher's pet, Connor can't seem to keep himself awake half the time. However, once they, quite literally, fall into the Land of Stories their differences seem to almost disappear... almost. From time to time they'll disagree or handle things differently, but for the most part they just seemed to be siblings who worked together to find a way home. In terms of individuals I really enjoyed reading about Alex and Connor, they are strong kids who will do whatever they can to return to those they love, which is a trait I greatly admire in a character.
World-Building: While the world of fairy tales is nothing new what the author does with it is rather amazing. He shows what happens after happily ever after, and while this is also not something new the way he does it just brings the whole book to life. I have to admit that prior to entering The Land of Stories I was a bit bored, but once I entered the world with the twins everything came alive and it was so fantastic. The world reminded me a bit of a much lighter version of one of my favorite mini-series The 10th Kingdom, if you haven't seen it yet and you love fairy tale retellings, I highly recommend it. I loved how this series doesn't go very far beyond the happily ever afters we all know and love but instead takes place about a decade or perhaps a little more beyond which is the perfect setting for this story as we still get to see our beloved fairy tale characters, but enough time has passed that we get a good look at the world and these stories' impact on it.
Predictability: You know, I can honestly say that there wasn't too much of this book that I could outright predict, sure I had theories on what would happen and what I would discover the further I read, however I never really had a definitive answer until just before said moment was revealed. Of course there were times that I could fairly easily guess a mystery that was meant to stump a middle grader, but for the most part I can honestly say that I enjoyed the refreshing air of mystery that this book exudes. I enjoyed debating with myself over the various theories I had developed and trying to connect the unseen dots in my head.
Ending: The ending held just enough mystery to know that there was going to be a sequel if not a whole blown series stemming from this book. That being said this book is a contained story and if the series did not continue, which it totally does, I would feel content that I learned everything I needed to. The ending itself was sweet and really tied the book together perfectly with it's nostalgic and sentimental feel. I liked that there was no cliffhanger, it just well ended and while I am happy that the series continues I'm glad that if it didn't there wouldn't have been a horrific cliffhanger to torture the readers and fans of this book.
This book is purely amazing, and while it isn't perfect I loved nearly every minute of reading it. I'm nearly halfway through the second one as I'm writing this and it just keeps getting better and better. I will admit I was a bit apprehensive about reading this book because it was written by a celebrity, whose could just get a book deal due to how famous they are and not really by talent, yet I was completely wrong and I'm so happy I was. I can't wait to finish the sequel and I hope to read more adventures in The Land of Stories for years to come.
Protagonist: Eureka is a fairly difficult protagonist to deal with. There were many times during the story where her actions seemed out of place or confusing. As for her character in general, I thought she was okay, but kind of bland. When I usually read a book the protagonist always has something that sets them apart and makes them special, and I'm not talking about any special abilities or anything like that, but more there's a quality that reaches out and grabs my attention, however Eureka lacked this and just came off very boring to me despite her romantic and world-threatening drama.
Romance: ***Note this section contains mild spoilers*** This... this is what aggravated me most about this book. The author attempts a love triangle but the execution is just... terrible. First off in the prologue we are introduced to the primary love interest, and he's kind creepy to me, while this creepiness is explained away it still lingers throughout the book and begins to grow again later on in the story, worse yet Eureka has a "strange attraction toward him" which is also, albeit hastily, at best, explained. Then we have the secondary love interest who seemed really cool and I actually really liked him as a love interest... at first. Soon he becomes pretty much a complete asshole and it felt to me as the author was just trying to get the "primary" love interest to seem better in comparison, which I have my doubts about now, but it only left me only hoping that they'd both leave Eureka alone. While in the end there's a bit of hope for one of these characters, this romance needs to be fixed quickly.
World-Building: This is the only thing that kept me reading at times. I liked how the author created and expanded on the myth of Atlantis, however we are told terms in the prologue that aren't explained until most of the way through this book, which is pretty much the only thing that I didn't like about the world-building. We aren't really given much on the actual mythology until nearly halfway through but the story up until then is entertaining, albeit a bit annoying. I felt there should have been a bit more expansion on the mythology, even for the first book it's a bit lacking however I'm hoping for a lot more information in the next installment.
Predictability: The predictability of this book was a bit flip-floppy, there were moments when I thought that I knew exactly what was going to happen and I was right, but then there were other moments I couldn't even begin to conceive what was happening it came so out of the blue. I really cannot explain how this effected me as I read, I was never bored with the things I predicted, but I was never totally blown away but the things I could not foresee, so it was a bit neutral for me, but didn't detract from the book.
Ending: The ending was something that I really liked, and no not because it ended, but rather that the epilogue gave me a bit more hope and redeemed a certain character for me. As I was reading this book one line was constantly repeated "Everything might change with the last word" which gave me hope that story would get better by the end, and it did a bit, giving me just enough hope that if I continue this series it will get better.
This will probably be disappointing to a lot of you out there that cannot wait for this book to come out and I wish I could have given it a better rating but it just wasn't nearly as good as I thought it would be and the love triangle, and how it was handled, angered me to no end. That being said, Will I buy a finished copy of this book? Yes. Will I rush out to buy it? No. Will I read the sequel? Of course. Am I chomping at the bit for it to come out? Eh. kinda but not really. Make of that what you will.