Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Pool of Fire by John Christopher

The Pool of Fire is the third book in the Tripods series by John Christopher. I'm reposting my reviews in tribute to this great science fiction writer who died last week.

The Pool of Fire

by John Christopher

Time is running short, and the final push to overthrow the Tripods has begun. To do his part against the Masters, Will must risk his life and go back inside the city that he hoped never to see again, the city where he was a slave and where he saw so many horrors.

This book is a little more fragmented than the others - it's really several different episodes involving Will and his companions in the battle against the Tripods. But it's an exciting story, and anyone who enjoyed the first two books will enjoy this one. One of the things that makes Will such a likeable character is that he's an ordinary boy. He's not the smartest, or the most disciplined, or even the most heroic, but he still manages to be in the thick of the war, striking blow after blow against the tyrannical rulers of the Earth. Through Will we come to believe that anyone can be a hero.

Buy The Pool of Fire

More About John Christopher

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher

The City of Gold and Lead is the second book in the Tripods series by John Christopher. I'm reposting my reviews in tribute to this great science fiction author who died this week.

Will and his friends have been living with the renegade community in the White Mountains, undergoing training to help in the battle against the Tripods. Now, volunteers are needed for a dangerous mission, and the three friends hope to be chosen. The volunteers will travel to a city in Germany to compete in the yearly athletic tournament. The winners of the tournament get the "honor" of going to the Tripod's city to serve the Tripods. If any of the volunteers win the tournament, they will have an opportunity to gather information from inside the Tripod's city. But this could well be a fatal mission; no one has ever returned from the Tripod's city. If they get into the city, will the heros be able to get back out again alive?

The first part of this book is a little slow but once the story gets going it's pretty exciting. In this book the fight against the Tripods, or the Masters as they are called in this book, becomes much more personal. Whereas in the first book they are a somewhat remote threat, with only a few close encounters, in this book we learn much more about the horrors of the Masters dominion over the Earth. The battle becomes much more real, and much more necessary. There are a couple of scenes in this book that may be too intense for sensitive children.

Buy The City of Gold and Lead

Monday, February 06, 2012

The White Mountains by John Christopher

In tribute to science fiction writer John Christopher, who just passed away, I'm reposting my review of The White Mountains, the first book in his Tripods series.

Will Parker is 13 years old, and in another year he will undergo the capping ceremony, which marks the passage to adulthood. During the capping ceremony, the Tripods, giant metal beings with three legs, permanently fuse a metal cap to the person's skull. Will accepts the capping as a normal part of life, as everyone else does, until Jack, his best friend and cousin is capped. Seeing the changes in Jack makes Will nervous about what lies in store. Soon afterwards, he meets a vagrant who tells him that the Tripods are beings who have taken over the Earth and that the caps are the means they use to keep humans under control. He tells will about a colony of free humans living in the White Mountains, far to the south, and gives Will directions for how to get there. Accompanied by first one, and then another boy, Will sets off on a journey to find the free men in the White Mountains. The journey is fraught with peril and filled with adventures.

I first read this book when I was young, and reading it again as an adult I found it just as exciting as I remembered it. Will and his friends must be constantly alert to avoid Tripods and other dangers. Since the book is told from Will's point of view and we can "see" his throughts, he is the most thoroughly developed character. During the journey, he grows as he interacts with the other boys and also as he examines and questions his own beliefs, desires, and motivations. While the book doesn't have a strong female character, that didn't bother me when I was a kid. I just enjoyed the adventure, and still do. The only complaint I have about the book is that it ends too abruptly, and the ending is anticlimactic, almost like the author just said, "that's enough, I'll cut it off here."

One important note: John Christopher later wrote a prequel to the series called When the Tripods Came. The prequel is now marketed as book 1, and The White Mountains has been shifted to book 2. But do not read When the Tripods Came first! The White Mountains was originally intended to be the first book, and if you read the prequel first, it will diminish your enjoyment of The White Mountains, because part of the fun of the book is the mystery of the Tripods. If you read When the Tripods Came first, then you will know too much about the Tripods to enjoy The White Mountains the way it was originally intended to be read.

Buy The White Mountains:

RIP John Christopher

I'm so incredibly sad to learn of the death of John Christopher. His Tripods series was a big influence on me as a child, and he helped to shape the YA SF genre. Reading the books again as an adult I wasn't disappointed. I posted reviews of the Tripod books on my original pre-blog Wands and Worlds site, and I'll repost them here in tribute.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Locus Magazine posted their 2011 Recommended Reading List today. Looks like a great list of books! Four of the Cybils Awards SFF Teen finalists made the list: Red Glove and The Shattering in the YA category, and Girl of Fire and Thorns and Blood Red Road in the First Novels category. One of the Cybils Middle Grade SFF finalists is on the list: A Monster Calls.
Besides the Cybils finalists, personal favorites on the Locus list include Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, The Boy at the End of the World, by Greg van Eekhoutand Welcome to Bordertown, edited by Holly Black & Ellen Kushner. There are several others on the Locus list that I want to read and haven't yet had a chance.