Thursday, October 20, 2011

Libyrinth by Pearl North

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Despite her seemingly humble role as a library clerk in a forgotten colony, Haly is the keeper of a remarkable secret. In a world in which books are both revered and feared, she has the power to hear the words of the tomes around her. When a rival group called the Eradicants, who believe that the books are evil, plots to destroy the ancient library where she lives and works, Haly is forced to make difficult choices to protect the lives of those around her. This debut novel is based on the premise of librarians as the protector of knowledge, defending literature from those who have abandoned the written word. With many references to well-known young adult works (listed in an appendix), particularly Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, the author tries to create a world of magic, adventure, and mystery. Some of the faster-paced scenes have the potential to captivate readers, but becoming completely absorbed in the story is a challenge. How well this book succeeds will depend on whether teenagers are able to bond with the main character, and how much interest they have in the world of librarians.—Caryl Soriano, New York Public Library END

My review...

Libyrinth picks up speed as it rolls along. It gathers a lot of detail, connecting amazing ideas as it moves faster and faster towards the end. The farther into it I read, the harder it was to set down. Within 300 some pages, it boasted big plans or threatened war, and the author delivered. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!!

This is a book surrounding a library and knowledge. There is history between the ancients and lingering memories of old earth and it’s deeper for being divided at a point in history where two great friends had a misunderstanding. Their descendants carried that misunderstanding until it grew into large prejudices. I enjoyed the intricacy of the large scope of history.

The idea of people protecting a library is intriguing, too. There is an entire culture within the Libyrinth completely separate from the Ilysies and Singers. The Ilysies had such an interesting grasp on light and an overwhelming number of women.  The Singers worshipped their ancestor Yamon and men were priests to a twisted degree. And the misunderstandings between all of them including the Thespians, who we didn’t hear as much about, was very complicated. Enjoyable.

I really liked the characters. Haly is fun. She is humble and creative, a survivor, but not what I would initially think of as hero material.  She reacts to painful torture very humanly, realizing her own weaknesses. Clauda is so interesting, too. She also has weaknesses she accepts in order to overcome them, working around debilitating paralysis, even.  Selene had moments of greatness. She saved her companions selflessly and anticipated her Queen Mother’s motives.  She disappeared into the background for the grand finale, but she could have directed it, instead. As could have Siblea, who was downright creepy with his ability to administer torture as he saw necessary. He thought quickly to avert disaster and might have orchestrated the ending more than was obvious to the two main girls.

My favorite part is where the books talked to Haly, and that surprised me. When I read the cover, I pictured random readings going on the poor girl’s head, but the books respond to her thoughts, which is neat idea. She carried out conversations with written words, any book in the vicinity, while talking with people around her. I can’t even imagine how she kept her ability secret growing up. The description of her not having many friends must have exaggerated in how ostracized she must have been by keeping silence so much. It was hard to keep track of the different conversations inside and outside of her head, but in a great way. I felt as if good strong thinking minds were working hard at every turn in the book and I enjoyed keeping up with all of them. I especially enjoyed all the quotes. I didn’t expect to enjoy the quotes so much, but I read them again after finishing when the author sited where each quote had come from.

This book took the idea making books I didn't know and turning them into good friends that I remember. I will never think of Anne Frank the same again and not just because her persecution coincided with themes in this book.  Libyrinth made The Diary of a Young Girl one of my friends, and that’s amazing.

My rating:  Love it!