Monday, November 18, 2013
Book Report Monday: Magic or Madness Trilogy by Justine Larbalestier
Title: Magic or Madness, Magic Lessons, and Magic's Child
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Synopsis: For fifteen years, Reason Cansino has lived a life on the run. Together with her mother, Sarafina, she has moved from one place to another in the Australian countryside, desperate not to be found by Reason's grandmother Esmeralda, a dangerous woman who believes in magic. But when Sarafina suffers a breakdown, Reason is forced to move in with her grandmother in Sydney. The moment Reason walks through Esmeralda's back door and finds herself on a New York City street, she's confronted by an unavoidable truth - magic is real.
This thrilling novel will bring readers through revelation upon revelation, leading to Reason's ultimate discovery of the price she must pay if she uses her magic.
Why did I pick it up?: Sometimes books get lost. Maybe you miss their window of popularity or maybe they just weren't popular enough to find their way to you. Whatever the cause it's kind of sad, isn't it? I know I'm missing out on a lot of books I would enjoy and I might never find them. That's why I'm glad I found the last two books in the Magic or Madness trilogy when I was at the Philadelphia Library last autumn. They were so cheap-I think a quarter each-that I figured I'd get the first book on Amazon and read the whole series.
My Review: After being told her whole life that magic isn't real but that her grandmother- who is insane and evil-believes it is, Reason is forced to see the truth. Her mother lied. Magic is real. And Reason can use magic, but it is dangerous. Reason has no idea who to trust. She's spent her life running from her grandmother, but now there are others who may be even worse.
Since using too much magic will shorten your lifespan and magic can be stolen, this world is a cutthroat one. And while Reason needs her friends to teach her, she also can't trust them, can she? Throughout the series Reason struggles with that very question. It makes every decision she has to make even more challenging.
One interesting aspect is how everyone sees and feels magic differently. It could be viewed as geometric shapes, as connections of energy between people, or (as it is for Reason) a combination of mathematical patterns and smells.
Nerd Moment: Oh, the math! Can I just point out that I adored the math Reason uses throughout the series. Her favorite is the Fibonacci sequence. Before she understands her power, she uses the numbers to calm herself when she's in danger of losing her temper and using too much magic. This was a rare instance when my mathematician-reader identity is perfectly pleased.
Reason is Australian and the series contain a lot of vocabulary unfamiliar to American teens. It is explained and even joked about when Reason finds herself in New York City and meets Jay-Tee who finds the Australian way of saying things ridiculous and amusing.
I really enjoyed the series. It was a quick, easy read, and overall a fun journey. I could have done without a few predictable plot points that are overused in YA fiction, but to be fair these books came out just before the YA boom so I think that Larbalestier was a part of setting rather than copying trends which are now frustratingly overdone.
My Recommendation: Fans of The Faeriewalker Series by Jenna Black would probably enjoy these.
For Next Week: Ape House by Sara Gruen