Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book Review: Amulet Series

Lately, I've really gotten into trying to pick up a few graphic novels here and there. One of the ones that caught my eye was the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi. These graphic novels circulate a lot at the library where I work and I constantly found myself staring at the beautiful covers. I eventually decided to read the first volume and now I'm here, reviewing the series~ The entire Amulet series will actually be composed of 9 volumes, however only 6 have been published with the next volume slated for a 2016 release. Amulet is a series aimed mostly as young children, ages 8-12 but it's definitely a series that all age groups can enjoy. 

Emily loses her father in a terrible car accident while on their way to pick up her younger brother Navin. Some time after, her mother decides to move the family to a home that was owned by their great-grandfather and that by inheritance, belongs to her mother now. It is inside this home that Emily  finds a strange amulet and soon is pulled into a fantastical world full of mystery, political intrigue, magic and most importantly - adventure. 

To put things simply, Emily is a stonekeeper, someone who uses the stones power in order to fight and/or protect those she loves. The world she has entered faces being completely conquered by terrible enemies and the resistance looks to Emily and her brother Navin to help them win. Why them? Well, Emily soon learns that her great-grandfather was known in the land as a great stonekeeper and as she inherited his stone, the inhabitants look to her to continue his work of bringing peace to their world. As for her brother Navin, there are prophecies that say one like him will come, someone who is will be an amazing pilot (Emily and Navin explain that Navin's skills were honed through video games - yeah, ok ;) ) and would eventually come to be the commander of the resistance. Emily and Navin both feel like they owe the people of this new world a debt, especially since they helped rescue their mom, so they decide to stay and help in whatever way they can. Not only that, but if they succeed, the stone has the power to essentially right a past wrong, and Emily is eager to know what that could be. 

The first volume of this series starts out as a fantastical adventure. There is danger but you know our heroes will persevere because they quickly gain all of these allies willing to help them. But as the story progress, particularly into volumes 5, 6, and 7 it starts to become much more dark. Since the very beginning, it seems that Emily speaks with the stone as if it's a living entity and as more secrets are revealed a terrible realization dawns on Emily and the other stonekeepers she has come to know. However, even among all the darkness that is pressing on them, Kibuishi does an excellent job of maintaining a thread a hope; a sense that no matter how bad things seem right now, our heroes will find a way out because they're fighting not just for themselves, but for everyone. 

If you loved series such as Harry Potter or the The Chronicles of Narnia, the Amulet series will strike a cord with you. It's a completely new and imagined world with heroes that are kids, simply trying to survive the in a new world and help bring peace. The non-human characters are really imaginative as well. We have talking robots (which were created by Emily and Navin's great grandfather), Miskit (who looks like a large stuffed rabbit), the elves (which look creepier than in the Lord of the Rings, but are still pretty much just like humans), the talking trees - I forget their names, they are very wise though - and essentially a wide cast of characters that really make the world come alive. One of my favorites is Leon Redbeard who is basically a fox, but later on you learn that he is a human suffering from a curse that has slowly turned him into an animal. Crazy right? Amulet is an extremely imaginative world and what's even better is that you can see it. Since it's a graphic novel series, there are panels of absolutely beautiful landscapes where Kibuishi lays down for you how he imagines this world and it's BREATHTAKING. I took much longer reading this series than I should have because I would just stare at some of the landscapes taking in every little detail. It's absolutely amazing. I swear I would pay to buy a panel as a piece of art.

Overall, I have really enjoyed the Amulet series. I know there is still 3 whole volumes left but I have no doubt that I will enjoy them a much as I enjoyed the first 6. There's so much to like here and I love that the story progresses slowly so we can get some character development in before we get to the action-packed parts. So if you haven't tried reading graphic novels up until now, I would definitely recommend picking this one up. It's now one of my favorite series overall and I really hope that becomes a cartoon because how cool would that be?!


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