Monday, October 06, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #277: Amulet Vol. 6: Escape From Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi

Sometimes a book telegraphs more than you expect -- as when, for example, the opening pages of the current volume of an adventure story sees our heroes trying to get to a place called Lucien, where they hope to meet up with reinforcements and prepare for their next move. And then you check again, and, yes, the title is Amulet, Vol. 6: Escape From Lucien.

So you hope the author (in this case, Kazu Kibuishi) didn't really want that tension that he's just thrown away, now that every reader knows from the title alone that Lucien is a trap. You don't know what kind of a trap yet -- it will take a few more pages before you get that far -- but you know the heroes will need to get out of it, which is as good a definition of a trap as any.

Escape From Lucien is the YA graphic novel equivalent of one of the better middle books of Wheel of Time: it's full of incident and activity, with characters running off in different directions at high speed and acting in their characteristic ways, but it doesn't seem to advance the overall plot all that far. We're deep enough into the series that we know all of the characters -- Emily and Navin, from our world; the traitor Max Griffin, adopted son and heir of the evil elf king; and the various stonekeepers, mech handlers, robots, humans, and grumpy adult authority figures around them. And we're used to all of their quirks, and happy to see them continuing their quest -- which is fairly vague at this point, but is some combination of saving the world from the elves, eliminating the curse of the stones and the secret voice that is the intelligence behind that curse, and getting the people from Earth safely back there eventually -- even if it's not clear how any of the actions in this book will lead directly towards any of those ends.

(The confused will need to drop back and refresh their memory with the earlier volumes: The Stonekeeper, The Stonekeeper's Curse, The Cloud Searchers, The Last Council, and Prince of the Elves.)

Kibuishi will eventually have to find his way to the big ending, and there are some signs here that he's starting to muster the elements for that ending. But it's still off in the distance: probably not next volume, but maybe the one after it. His art is as strong as ever, depicting amazing scenes and fabulous devices with ease and wonder. And his dialogue is engrossing as well: this is an excellent series of graphic-novel adventure stories for teens, tweens, and anyone who remembers that spirit of high adventure and righteousness. But we will need to see that ending eventually, to pay off everything that happens before it.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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