Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Review: Level Three's Dream

Level Three's Dream
Level Three's Dream by Matt Posner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the first book of this series, and even though I had made commitments to other authors to review their books, I went straight from the first book to this second one. I didn't love it as much, but it is good.

It's longer than the previous one, and longer is not necessarily better. In fact, it reached the point where I felt less would have been more. Every part of it is well done, but some parts go on longer than I felt they needed to. The quotations from Lewis Carroll at the beginnings of most of the chapters didn't add as much as they might have, either. I kept looking for parallels between them and what happened in the chapter they headed, and there were some, but they were tenuous.

The author has a rare gift, though: an ear for language. Not only are the different dialects of the characters well done, but even the Lewis-Carroll-style poetry is well done, and that is hard to do. There was one poem that didn't quite work metrically, but the others (as far as I could tell, since I didn't know the originals of a couple of the songs that were parodied) were spot on.

There's an obvious affection for Carroll's work, and a large section of the book is set in a version of his imagined world. That was the part I felt went on too long. I like Carroll as much as the next person, and this is a well-done homage, but there didn't need to be so much of it. Nor, I thought, did there need to be such a large group of characters visiting that world, who were then split into four smaller groups to have fairly similar adventures.

Apart from that, I have only one quibble, which is disproportionately important to me because I'm a New Zealander. In a passing mention, the characters visit Australia in the past, and encounter moas, a bird native to New Zealand. New Zealand is not Australia, and is separated from Australia by hundreds of miles of ocean. It really annoys us when Americans don't know this.

Anyway, the relationships between the characters, and their knowledge of their world and their abilities, advance; seeds are sown for book three; and in general a fine book is had by all.

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