Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: "The Journey" by Kathryn Lasky

After enjoying the first book in the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series, my son and I eagerly tackled Kathryn Lasky’s second book of the series, “The Journey” ($5.99, Scholastic). Unfortunately, we came away with mixed feelings on this one.

The book picks up with Soren and his band of friends – Gylfie, Twilight and Digger – still trying to find their way to the legendary Great Ga’Hoole Tree. While they’re on their journey, running into various types of owls and even getting into a fracas with a bobcat, the story remains fast-paced and entertaining. Once they find the home of the Guardians, however, things take a bit of a turn as the four try to find their place in the tree’s society.

That’s the biggest problem with the second half of this book. It gets very lost in explaining the owls' society, and delves a bit too much into minutiae of their duties and everyday lives. For example, when a group of owls are learning to recover embers from a forest fire, it’s a thrilling scene, rife with danger and suspense. At the same time, though, Lasky seems to want to give us a physics lessons on the techniques that the owls use to catch the embers. Maybe it’s a good idea from an educational standpoint, but from a reader’s standpoint, my son got really bored with it, as did I.

Overall, the second half of “The Journey” really loses the thread of adventure that “The Capture,” and even the first part of this book had. Some of that is to be expected, once they reach the relative safety of the Ga’Hoole tree, but the threat of St. Aggie’s is largely forgotten in this book, and while the band learns of perhaps an even worse threat, Lasky doesn’t manage to build it into anything quite as sinister and foreboding as she might have. A new mystery and a quick run of events at the end of the book seem to offer the promise of better things to come, but ultimately, the at times lethargic pace of “The Journey” and the lack of that same spirit of adventure caused my son and I to put the reading of the third book, “The Rescue,” on hold for now.

I still have hopes that Lasky’s series will deliver more satisfaction in the futre, but “The Journey” was a bit of a disappointment.

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