So, I’ve finally finished the third book! Took a lot longer than I thought and once again I’m feeling like I didn’t actually enjoy it all that much. Though it hardly remind me of the first book, I just wasn’t caught up enough in the story to get really into reading it. It seems predictable in parts too and there’s not many twists. I knew how things were going to work out, but I felt that the journey getting there wasn’t exciting enough. It’s still a typical good vs evil plot and the out come stays true to this. However, I’d have liked a little more….I don’t know imagination? Though that seems rather ironic since this book is all about saving imagination!
For me the second book was my favorite, because I got into the story a lot more and it felt better written then the first. The third isn’t badly written, it just seems lacking and in places seems more screenplay like the novel like. I guess it really isn’t my kind of book, but I can see why younger readers would be taken by it. The one comparison I can think of making is to Treasure Island. I read this believing it would be more adult then it turned out to be and granted I knew it was a children’s book, but I still believed that there would be a lot more depth to it, but by the time I’d finished it I felt really disappointed. I then picked up Flint and Sliver by John Drake and found it to be just what I was hoping Treasure Island would be. I was hoping that The Looking Glass Wars would be an adult version of Alice, but this is far for the case.
I don’t dislike this trilogy, but for me it just has a few problems and I think the way it’s written is one of its main issues. There’s nothing wrong with the characters and even in the third book they are well developed and continue to grow as they learn things. They also have key roles to play, which helps to move the plot along. I still also like the connect with Earth that the plot makes. We once again get the Liddell family and Lewis Carroll appearing and its nice to this consistence with characters. The introduction of new characters gives it a fresh edge and adds some more helping hands to the war efforts. I guess some more depth into the characters would have been nice, but I know how hard it is to do this when there are so many of them.
In my last two reviews, I don’t think I really talked about Beddor’s use of sound effects. These often appear throughout the book and echo the sounds you would hear if you were witnessing the item in action. Though these are really thoughtful and do add something to the visuals on the page, I did feel they were a bit childish and probably more comic book suited. They were over-used and I got a bored with seeing them. Normal sound description works fine within most books and for most readers and I just felt that in some places the sound effects weren’t needed.
My other problem with Arch Enemy is the fighting scenes. I got a little bored of the fighting towards the end. I guess the constant repetitive action scenes weigh the plot down too much and though this is mixed in with other events happening, the chopping back and forth left me feeling a bit dizzy. When I think about the Drizzt books and how they deal with fighting scenes, I can see the difference straight away. It feels a lot more choreographed and the writer is very knowledgeable about how his character would use his weapons in battle. I just didn’t get the same feeling out of Arch. The writing of these scenes didn’t feel rushed, but for me a lot more could have gone into them. As the final battle was reaching it’s end, I didn’t get much satisfaction out of characters completing missions they had set themselves. However, I did like the idea that Dodge felt no sense of close at the death of The Cat, who he’d been trying to kill to get vengeance for the murder of his father.
The obstacles that Alyss faces are good. She is fighting two enemies now and must decided what’s best for Wonderland. She does think like a queen throughout, beside from one point, where she drops everything to go and rescue the Liddells’. She is then trapped on Earth because Arch has had the Pool Of Tears drained and the water evaporated. Lucky, Molly is there and able to create another portal which allows them back. I thought Molly could have been more used, but since she needs the time to get over the events of the second book, its understandable why Beddor didn’t use her more. Once again, I’d have liked to see more of the relationship between Alyss and Dodge, though they do get to gather at the end. In some parts you can see where Beddor has tried to fit this in, but I felt that a lot more could have been made out of it. More detail about their feelings and the struggle for them to be in love when there was so much else going on, could have added another layer to the story.
One thing I’ve found that I did really like about the trilogy was the art work used on the books. I was drawn to the images because they looked different and interesting. My copy of the third book is in hardback and on the pages dividing the book into pages are art works of Wonderland scenes. It reflected the art used in Alice. I don’t know if the hardback versions of 1 and 2 did this as well, because the paperbacks didn’t.
The ending works well, though I think I did want a little more out of it, but the characters have learned what they have to do and are able to complete their tasks. Beddor also seems to have issues killing off characters and I don’t like how he handled this, because it felt like characters who should be dead escaped it. I guessed also what would happened to the caterpillars- well anyone who’s read Alice will also know it.- It did feel like a nicely rounded off ending, but maybe it would have suited a more open ended one?
Overall, I found Arch Enemy a struggle to get through. It just didn’t grip me and it just lacked in the key areas of writing and adventure. For the last book in a trilogy, it feels pretty flat and predictable. The trilogy over all isn’t that bad and some parts I did find interesting and readable, but I just got bored of the repetitive fighting scenes, lack of real development in Alyss’s and Dodge’s relationship and the jagged jumping between characters. I would tell people to read this and come up with their own conclusion about it, though I would tell them that its not a re-telling of Alice or an adult version of the story.