1537. A man hurries through city streets in a gathering snowstorm, clutching a box in one hand. He is Johann Faust, the greatest magician of his age. The box he carries contains a mirror safeguarding a portion of his soul and a small ring containing all the magic in the world. Together, they comprise something unimaginably dangerous.
London, the present day. Fifteen-year-old Gavin Stokes is boarding a train to the countryside to live with his aunt. His school and his parents can't cope with him and the things he sees, things they tell him don't really exist. At Pendurra, Gavin finds people who are like him, who see things too. They all make the same strange claim: magic exists, it's leaking back into our world, and it's bringing something terrible with it.
First in an astonishingly imaginative fantasy trilogy, Advent describes how magic was lost to humanity, and how a fifteen-year-old boy discovers that its return is his inheritance. It begins in a world recognizably our own, and ends an extraordinarily long way from where it started--somewhere much bigger, stranger, and richer.
Released: February 2nd 2012 Pages: 448
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Source: Library
First Look: ***** Initially, I was attracted to the cool cover. The premise involving the Faust legend intrigued me as well.
Setting: ***** Pendurra was oddly backwards. It was supposed to be, a little, I presume, but it seemed too much so. I mean, didn't they have a gas station, at least, or anyplace like that where Gavin could have gone for help? It seemed like the whole village was very out of touch with the modern world. This would make sense, in context, but the author never really let me know for sure, so now I'm left wondering.
Characters: ***** Gavin didn't act fifteen. If I wasn't told his age, I would have put him more around twelve. His decisions, his language, everything--he came off as immature. A major factor in this, for me, was his swearing. It didn't seem like the say-it-without-thinking that would be typical of a fifteen-year-old boy accustomed to swearing. It seemed more like a twelve-year-old's version of experimenting with swear words and throwing them around awkwardly. (I go to a public high school--I can tell who is used to swearing all the time, and who isn't.)
He also made some pretty dumb decisions. The most obvious one was staying in Pendurra, and not getting help. His aunt didn't show up as planned for days, and no one could find her. The most logical thing to do in that situation is call the police. Not dither around and bond creepily (we'll talk about that in a minute) with twelve-year-olds. Also, disturbing, unsafe things are happening all over the place. And Gavin stayed. A sane person with any amount of common sense would have gotten out of that place as fast as possible.
Marina had an eight-year-old's mind inside a twelve-year-old body. I got the vague sense that she was young for her age, but this seemed excessive. She was completely clueless about the world around her, and it was frustrating. It wasn't realistic. And then Gavin made a few remarks that almost made it sound like he was romantically interested in her. Um, what? A fifteen-year-old boy with more-than-friend feelings toward a twelve-year-old girl is downright creepy, and is firmly in get-professional-help territory.
Plot: ***** The first half was so slow; I couldn't bring myself to stay interested. The second half was so weird and convoluted that most of the time I had no idea what was going on. After about page 200, it was just strange after strange after strange, and none of it was ever explained. The introduction of mythical(?) creatures and beings was jarring. I could have accepted it if there had been a reason or motivation behind it, but there wasn't. The author gave me nothing to hold on to.
The occasional Faust chapters didn't make much sense, either. They weren't connected enough for me to discern any kind of storyline, or any reasoning as to why the chapters were place where they were.
And I know I've mentioned this before, but...why didn't Gavin just go back to his parents? They may have hated him, but at least they weren't trying to kill him!
Uniqueness: ***** Let's take a look at this: simple-looking ring, has magic properties, is both a gift and a burden, lost to mankind for many centuries until it was reclaimed by a young seemingly-nobody... Um, Tolkien published this same story in 1954, except that I liked it a thousand times more.
Writing: ***** The writing, in places, was actually quite lovely. (Here's my obligatory nice comment.) It was offset, though, by the fact that it took forever for anything to happen. It seemed to me that this wasn't so much a plot-pacing issue as a narration-pacing issue. There's a difference. Though the plot was also quite slow, the narration didn't help. Sentences and paragraphs were quite long, which made for the feeling of slower reading.
Also, there were some run-on sentences, for no good reason. These are just flat-out incorrect.
Not-so-great: I think we all know what I didn't like.
Overall: This is a strange and convoluted story. The main character acted five years younger than his age, and wasn't likable or developed. At about page 200 it got bizarre and didn't make much sense. Before that, hardly anything happened. I didn't like this book, and I don't recommend it.
Similar Books: It involves the Faust legend in the modern world like Endymion Spring, the same type of magic and mythology as The Raven Boys, and reminds me a little of Prophecy of the Sisters.