Saturday, 17 March 2012

Steve Voake - The Web of Fire

The Web of Fire is the follow up to The Dreamwalker’s Child which I reviewed all the way back in July 2010. In that reviewed I stated that while it was a good book with many original ideas driving it, it also borrows heavily from Star Wars and that the bad guys are heavily influenced by the Nazis.

In this second book, most of Star Wars stuff has disappeared (with the exception of Odoursin who with his new scars would probably be a spitting image of the Emperor) but the Nazi stuff comes back in full force. One scene could be ripped right from the front lines of France in the 1940s.

Imagery aside, there are a lot more minor issues. The Dreamwalker’s Child is a well crafted first novel where as The Web of Fire feels more like it was demanded than a planned sequel. These issues start on page 55 where one of the characters fancies himself as ‘punctual’ for arriving at a meeting right on time. However, if you are outside introducing yourself to the reception at bang on three o’clock when your meeting is at three, you are effectively late. I do realise this is a kids book and that perhaps I shouldn’t take this sort of thing too seriously, but punctual is early. Over obsessive with time is arriving dead on start time.

Through the rest of the book, these mistakes continue in the form of badly constructed sentences, unexpected gender changes and confusing paragraph construction that make the book a lot harder to read and understand what’s going on. Not good for the kids.

That said, the book is 329 pages long and I stopped complaining after page 166. I think this is more to do with the fact that I got bored, which is more of indication that I’m not the target audience than the book is bad, but I enjoyed the first one so this reaction left me quite confused and I think it goes back to the fact that it feels like a forced sequel.

There are scenes which the author wanted to write and these are really good and enjoyable to read. However, they are linked together with passage for which, if I’m honest, I just switched off for. It was like taking a bus across Europe. You take in the cities you visit whilst being asleep on the journey in between, occasionally waking up to take in the scenery.

Also the endings don’t add up. The first one was finished, done, completed. We understood the plot twist at the end and it made sense. This one doesn’t agree with the first, or it sort of loosely does but doesn’t quite get it right (trying really hard not to spoil it for anyone who may want to read it.)

I wouldn’t recommend reading this if you enjoyed the The Dreamwalker’s Child. It doesn’t live up to the high standards set by the first book and unnecessarily extends what I considered to be a complete story.

The Web of Fire by Steve Voake was published by Faber and Faber in 2006. RRP £6.99 (Paperback)

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