Review: Sabriel by Garth Nix (Spoiler Free)

Sabriel by Garth Nix
Read: May 11 – May 20, 2012
Other Information: Library book, paperback, 491 pages, personal read

Book Blurb: None

My Thoughts: As someone who normally reads very fast, I need to mention that the fact that it took me nine days to read this book is in no way the fault of the book. I am currently at a point where reading is not as big of a priority as I would like it to be, so books are taking longer to read. Had I read this during a less hectic time, I would have read it in a day. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

At first glance, the book seems like an adventure tale of a young woman going off on her own, seeking the big wide world. It isn’t. Adventures are had out of necessity, and in the end, everything is actually quite hard on Sabriel. At times, it seemed like maybe Nix was getting a little too much pleasure out of making bad things happen to her. A story needs some conflict, but I felt like all the bad was a little over the top.

As a former design student, I feel compelled to comment on the formatting of the edition I read. The text was far too large, and the book could probably have been trimmed down a hundred pages or so by formatting alone. Though I guess for younger readers it is cool to say you read a book that was over two hundred pages long.

The characters were superbly written. Sabriel was at no time a Mary Sue, though she could have easily slipped into that category. She is also fairly ageless throughout the book until her age is specifically mentioned as being 18. Mogget was probably my favorite character, I mean who doesn’t love a talking cat? Touchstone alone felt rushed to me. I think the story could have done just as well with him being introduced later or in a different manner.

As with all young adult novels, there is a romance. I actually thought we would get away without it, because it was so sneaky and sly. This one didn’t feel as forced as some others, and it explored the reality of jealousy and loss. The one thing that irked me was the usual tendency to throw around the word “love” after such a short period of time. When will writers stop doing that?

The story itself was very intriguing. The world is split by a wall. On one side is something similar to an early 19th century England, complete with cars, planes, electricity and the like. On the other is a world where magic reigns, and technology fails. I wish we had learned more about the different kinds of magic, Charter Magic and Free Magic, instead of the assumption that we know the history. We get some tantalizing glimpses, but not the whole image. But there are two more books.

The ending makes me wonder if the book was originally meant to be the first of a trilogy. It isn’t particularly cliff-hanger-ish but it does leave some questions. I will be picking up book two sometime.

Bottom Line: A very enjoyable read. Great characters and a smoothly flowing story, if a little predictable at times. I will be continuing with the series.

My Rating: 4 stars


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