Obernewtyn is done, and The Farseekers is waiting. Before we start book two in the Obernewtyn Chronicles, I thought it might be a good idea to ‘wrap up’ the first book. This is actually the first series I’ve reviewed before, so this makes things a little different, to just having a single standalone book.
Obernewtyn is not a perfect book, and as much as I love the Chronicles as a whole, I have to admit that it is not the best book. But, having said that, when you think about Harry Potter basically no one says that they love the first book, and compared to the later few, it is terrible. But ‘Obernewtyn’ (and ‘HP:PS/SS) are the stepping stones and introduction into a brand new world. You can’t just be dropped into the world with no explanation, otherwise you would have no idea what was going on and why someone can do something different, and as humans we are curious and would have too many questions about the world. So as an introduction into the Obernewtyn world, it is a good book.
However, there are still flaws. The continuity and time-line are quite poor, as it is hard to know when things happen in relation to other things. Sure this is a hard thing to do, and Elspeth herself (as it is first person) might not exactly have a grasp on the timing of things, but I thought it made things a little confusing at times. Also, there seem to be many places that in one sentence Elspeth is thinking, then randomly she is already at the farm. Granted, I don’t really want boring, pointless scenes of Elspeth’s journey to the farm, but it seems to me that it is a little jumpy. Perfection is something impossible to achieve, and some come close, but Obernewtyn (book #1) is not one of them and if it were just a single book (obviously it would be different) but I would say it is not very good, but considering there are many questions left unanswered and things have been set up for future books, I would say it is good. It is doing the job of the first book in a series, as it is introducing the world, explaining how the world works, introducing some characters and setting up future events both closer and further away, so looking it in this way, it is pretty good.
Though I think, after coming out of most of my recent books (that I have read personally) they have been in short time frames, either 24 hours, or a couple of days and going into a book which deals with at least 8 months, doesn’t help. Having to spread out scenes over multiple months, does make things difficult, but if I’m going to compare it to Harry Potter (which isn’t exactly fair, both are a phenomenon and approaching perfection) I never recall having these sorts of feelings, maybe it is because I was reading for pleasure and not analysing it and thinking about it as much, but I suspect that it has to do with the style. And comparing a third person with a first person point of view, is like comparing apples and oranges on its taste of banana, it is verging on ridiculous. And I can’t compare it with Hunger Games or another first person book (that I have recently read) because HG has lots of fast paced action, that allows first person to shine. Possibly Isobelle Carmody (I wonder if all her other books are in first person?) has chosen first person for later events that requires first person so that the action can be understood, as obviously she cannot change her writing style over the series, so dramatically.
I am hoping that in future books, a few kinks are ironed out. I have to admit for a book that was started when she was 16 and was published 26 years ago (and that does make a difference, as many of the books I read have been written recently, and I haven’t read many (or any other?) books from the 70s/80s) it is good. I would bet that if she wrote this book now, after all her experiences and gained knowledge, it would be a whole different book. But I have to applaud the fact that Isobelle has set up a storyline for the next six books, and has been able to keep the story going for over 2 decades, most people would give up, and that would have meant no Obernewtyn.
I quite like where this can go, as there is so much to be explored, and obviously with six more books, there is a lot that is going to happen. I would not even like to guess how it is all going to end. But first thing is first, I have to read book two!