Ages ago I read book one and two of the Amulet series. Kazu Kibuishi’s illustrations are fun, the storylines familiar and it seemed like a good series to get involved with. After all, only 8 (now 6) books and they were short so what could go wrong? Well, it wasn’t “gone wrong” but it is an odd thing and one I’m a bit embarrassed to admit. Either I missed book three or I have absolutely no memory of it. And that has colored the rest of the series for me.
As mention, this is a fun fantasy series and one I should have read back to back. The one at a time was way too slow as each book is both connected to the ones before it and its own story at the same time. The art is vibrant and rich. Plus, it is detailed perfectly (not too much, but the panel/pages are filled). New characters (some human, some elf, some robot, some alien, some animal, some monster) are introduced in each book, characters grow a bit, and there is little that a kid reader isn’t going to like.
How can you not love the idea of Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings meets Battlestar Galatica meets mystery meets adventure meets coming-of-age meets magic and fantasy? There is a scene stolen from a briefing scene in Star Wars. There are fighter planes I was looking for Apollo and Starbuck to be piloting. I was hoping to see second breakfast. They were not there, but the diesel punk (I think that is the punk I’m looking for….) is and but you can see the classical influences. However, the first two books were heavier on the fantasy and not the technical worlds whereas the later ones mix the two elements.
Each story is based around Emily and Naven. They are a sister and brother team (along with their mom, in the typical “she is there but as a side mom” role) trying to save a world like Earth only there is magic, monsters, curses, robot bunnies, humans, humans turned into animals and elves (and not the Orlando Bloom type). There is the family secret (a great grandfather was a keeper of a magical stone that is now passed down to Emily, but she has little background to deal with the burden), robots and mysterious “smoke” creatures. However, for me, there were holes. Some storylines didn’t flow as smoothly as I would have liked. This is probably due to the fact I can’t remember/didn’t read book three and missed some information. Things move fast, but that shouldn’t bother the indented reader. Also, some actions are not shown but you just accept it happened (a character has blown themselves seemingly up, assumed dead, but shows up later, without having shown how the other characters found him). And due to the fact, there is The Void where people are alive and dead at the same time and where they are “there” but memory as well. I never really figured out that part. I think I needed to take off my “Adult Reading Hat” and put on my “Kid Reading Hat” which is more likely to just accept this is how it is.
Overall, though, having Emily and Naven take on different parts of the world and have their stories parallel each other is interesting. Emily is part of the magic and Naven part of the mechanical world (though he does cross into the magical world when interacting with characters). The mix of these two worlds is very obvious in Supernova (volume 8). She learns of the magical stone and her powers throughout the eight books and he is putting his video game playing to good use by flying ships, driving robots and driving houses that when they move, they get UP and move. There is something for everyone. Ages 10 to 14 are probably the best ages to read, but it can go younger. However, there is fantasy violence and characters (a spider-like-skeleton-troll anyone?) and might not be for all readers.
Oh, and spoiler: There is a ninth book in the series as well, but I cannot locate an ETA for it.