Book Review: The Exciting, Humorous, Journey North! Or Be Eaten

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I reviewed the first book of The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson as one of my earliest blog posts.  I finally returned to read the second, North! Or Be Eaten.  By the fruit of the Hollows and the Holes in the Mountains, this man has a way with words!

The dreaded Fork! Factory! is indeed dreaded as the back cover warns and as difficult to escape as the Overseer says.  You may have noticed by now that I have a habit of avoiding a book when I know that bad things will happen to the characters whom I love.  It should be a great compliment to Peterson that it took me so long to escape even just that section of the story.  And still no sign of the nameless evil, Gnag the Nameless.

The last few chapters are absolutely gripping, danger or no, however.  I tore through them all in one sitting, loosing appropriate cries of dismay and warning.  The book actually has a note of symmetry.  The first chapters were equally gripping and action-packed, the first sixty pages or so recounting the Igibys’ Fang-dogged flight across perilous landscapes.  This flight I found to be almost too much.  Though the chapters are short, I read but a few at a time, needing to stop and catch my breath if the Igibys and Fangs could not.  I worried then though that this book’s platoon of Fangs seemed less appalling than the first’s.  Peterson remedied that.  My diminishing fear of the Fangs was quickly halted and the sickness returned by perhaps the last quarter of the book, though it was a different sickness, mingled with more pity for the monsters.

But Peterson’s dreadful scenes and certainly the brief times between the dangers are peppered with his humor, much of which relies on ridiculousness, but also pointed critique and brilliant analogy.

My favorite example, English major that I am and no great friend of the exclamation point, references the sign above the Fork! Factory!:

“Janner was as unsettled by the overuse of exclamation points as he was by the dreary countenance of the place” (176).

I also applaud this description: “Since the bumpy digtoad has no teeth, its bites are said to feel to the victim like being ‘gummed like a dumpling in an old man’s mouth’” (115).

This second book returns us to Aerwiar and the Igiby family, both of which are enriched by a second novel.  On a flight to the Ice Prairies, Aerwiar is greatly expanded, with stops along the River Blapp, in Dugtown, and across the Stony Mountains.  I noticed a Tolkien-esque reality to this fictional landscape, which quite impressed me.  Peterson’s Creaturepedia looks more in line with that of the world of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: the Last Airbender (and yes, that’s a compliment), though almost always with more teeth.  The ancient history of Aerwiar is also highlighted in this book.  Further histories of particularly Peet and Podo come to light also through the Igibys’ second adventure.  New characters, equally realistic as familiar friends and enemies, are introduced that will be missed if they do not reappear in subsequent novels.

[SPOILER] And Mr. Peterson, if you’re reading this, I would really like to meet a trustworthy Ridgerunner.  I can’t think that they are as undeniably evil as orcs. [END SPOILER]

****

Peterson, Andrew.  The Wingfeather Saga, Book Two: North! Or Be Eaten.  Colorado Springs: WaterBrook-Crown, 2009.

This review is not endorsed by Crown Publishing Group, WaterBrook Press, or Andrew Peterson.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.

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