by Tamora Pierce
read by Full Cast Audio
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I realized sometime in the last couple of weeks that I was spending an inordinate amount of time in the car driving my children places. I don’t mind this: I like my car, I like my children, and I generally don’t mind listening to the news/music. But then I got thinking: the more time I spend in my car, the less time I have to actually sit and read (though I do take a book for me to read while I am waiting). Then the tragedy in AZ happened, and the news was just depressing, and that’s when it hit me: audiobooks! (I’m slow sometimes.)
I wandered around the audiobook section (I really need an MP3 player/iPod so I can listen to downloadable stuff) and realized that I hadn’t read a Tamora Pierce book in a while, so I pulled this one off the shelf. When M saw the book, she informed me that it’s the second book in a second series and I might be a little lost. But then she proceeded to fill me in on all the information I needed.
Fourteen-year-old Briar Moss and his teacher, Rosethorn, are have been in Chammur, a Middle Eastern-like country, for a while to try and figure out a way to help the farmers with their plants. As both are plant mages, this is an ideal way for them to collect and study new plants and ideas. As their time comes to a close, Briar spots Evvy, a young street rat, in a market, and noticed she has stone magic. Once he finds Evvy, it becomes an interesting race with one of the nobles in town — Lady Zenadia, who is dabbling in leading a gang and inciting gang wars for a unspecified motivation — to see who can tap into Evvy’s power first.
That sounded bad. But it’s hard to explain, even though it’s pretty black and white: Briar wants to teach Evvy (or find her a teacher at least), Lady Zenadia wants the power (I’m assuming, since it was never specified) that Evvy’s magic will bring her. Evvy just wants to be fed and clothed and treated like a person not a slave.
The story is an interesting one, dealing with issues of ownership and propriety as well as those of class. However, I’m thinking this one was probably one I should have actually read, because I was distracted by the full cast audio. The narrator was okay, but several of the actors voices drove me nuts, so every time they spoke, I cringed. Of course this took away from the story. Also, it seemed to me, every time we turned around Pierce was describing what people were wearing. Did it really matter that Lady Zenadia was wearing a black and crimson sari, arms hung heavy with gold, a delicate nose ring that had a slim chain connecting it to her earring? Did it matter that Briar’s favorite overrrobe was a long, forest green one, beautifully embroidered? Um, no. Not really. I could have skipped over all that had I been looking at the text, but because I was listening, I couldn’t. Yawn.
Aside from that, the story was just okay. I wanted Pierce to give me more motivation for Lady Zenadia’s involvement in the city’s gangs, for her ruthlessness. It just was, and that bothered me. I wanted to know why. And while the ending was cool — it’s always nice to see YA characters taking action and being awesome without help from the adults — it was a bit too pat for my taste.
Maybe I should ask for some good audiobook recommendations. They need to be clean YA or MG because I drive around with my kids in the car, and there are some things that a 4 year old doesn’t need to hear. Any suggestions for my next book?