History, Magic, Teens, & Not An Inkling of Romance
First of all, Thirteenth Child's lack of romance is extremely refreshing. There are a lot of YA series out there with strong female leads, and there's..Show More » almost always a romance in there... but not here. Maybe in the later books.
Eff isn't unique in her tomboy-ish characteristics; that's a familiar trope in modern YA literature, but she's more Laura Ingalls or Jo March than Katniss Everdeen. She's remarkably normal for a world full of magic - then again, this is a world where magic is seen as a given, and its the Revisionists (affirmed non-magic users) are seen as radical.
Wrede writes a world that makes no bones about life with magic being easier, and finds suitable, unexpected consequences for that magic. Magic in Columbia isn't opposite of nature, it's an instrinic part of it - and as our environment adapts and changes with our use of it, so the magic does in Eff's world.
Amanda Ronconi is a fine narrator, and I liked what she did with Eff's character and did adore the voices she chose for the men - particularly Wash, a character who appears about 2/3 of the way through the book. I don't know if it was a specific choice on her part, but she made Eff and Lan's voice relatively similar (they're twins!) and I liked that. Otherwise, the narration was a little slow, but it suited the tone of the story.
Overall, the plot isn't particularly surprising or exciting, but it's a solid tale with good world creation, and fleshed-out characters. I was able to stop and start listening with relative ease... I think it took me about two weeks to go through it, listening for a few hours every couple of days. It was easy to fall back into the story, and Amanda Ronconi helped with that familiarity a lot.
I truly enjoy Patricia's ability to create characters and situations that are easy to imagine and her writing style flows so nicely. I am looking forw..Show More »ard to the last installment of this story line!
I have now read all three books in this trilogy and I sincerely hope that Wrede's readers will convince her to turn this into a series. I can see ple..Show More »nty of paths she could take towards turning out more books about this interesting young woman.
Over the arc of the trilogy, I really enjoyed the unfolding of her personality, from a disregarded and dismissed child to struggling adolescence to blossoming young woman. I don't want to provide spoilers, but I find that while Lan is an admirable and deserving young man, Eff is by far the more creative and interesting character.
I enjoyed the interplay between events in our history and how they differ in Eff's. And I really enjoyed learning that both Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were seventh sons of seventh sons. (We should have guessed.) 8-)
I kept thinking during the first book in this trilogy that she kept hanging revolvers on walls and then not shooting them (see Wikipedia article, "Chekhov's Gun") It was revealing in this book to see all those guns being taken down and used. Clearly, this entire series was mapped out before she completed the first one.
To sum up: Don't start with this book. Read them in their proper order: "Thirteenth Child", then "Across the Great Barrier", and then this one.