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Fleen Book Corner: Amulet Book 8

This is going to be a bit brief, not because the latest from Kazu Kibuishi doesn’t deserve a few thousand words, but because the time you spend reading my review would be better spent reading that latest book, Supernova. It’ll be surprisingly light on spoilers. Every kid in America (and some considerable number of us older folks) that waited for years for the eighth installment of the Amulet series wants to know how it wraps up, and now they have a wait¹ … so we’ll all be reading and re-reading and finding new bits that eluded us.

And what struck me about Supernova was two-fold:

  1. Amulet really is a trilogy of trilogies. The first three books laid out the situation, the middle three raised the stakes, and the most recent two have been positioning us for the endgame. Within the arc of 7-8-9, you’ve got the buildup and cliffhanger of all cliffhangers in 7, and a shifting of players to get us where we need to be for the big finish in 8. Now he’s got to bring it all together.
  2. Amulet continues to grow like ripples in a pond, but we keep finding ourselves echoing back to the beginning; it’s all been the same story: family, courage, doing what’s right to help those that need it. Being strong to resist those that would turn you in bad ways. The evil you fight today has its roots in pain and fear, and the causes need to be addressed as much as the results because the challenges are always going to be there.

That last is particularly resonant. It doesn’t matter if you’re on Earth (and goodness, it’s a long time since Emily, Navin, and Mom saw Earth) or Alledia, or if you’ve left the fantasy world for the space station and now the Stonekeepers come from many worlds, fighting shadows across galaxies: Authority from fear contains the seeds of its own destruction. People that have enough food and who don’t fear for their children won’t go to war. Whispers that promise power have their own motivations and rarely good ones. We can pull ourselves back from darkness. Mountain bikes are hella cool².

And each time you fight the darkness, each time you push back against evil, each time you fail to stop it once and for all?

You learn something. You get stronger. And you never give up.

Navin and Emily have been presented with these lessons since their adventures began, but they each come to a more innate understanding of the depth and breadth of their fight, and an acceptance of their responsibilities. They’re still kids, but over the course of the series they’ve grown up before our eyes.

What started as a fairly standard family legacy leads to quest with immediately definable goals story has grown to encompass the sprawl of history, time travel, space, magic, temptation, redemption, and a struggle against a threat to many worlds. We’ll get a conclusion to this particular story, but the larger is not going to finish in one more book. The fight goes on because the fight always goes on.

One day, not too long from now, Kibuishi will decide he’s done enough research. He’ll start drawing Book 9, and sometime after that Cassandra Pelham will provide her editor’s wisdom and Jason Caffoe will start to render colors and environments. Covers will be designed, production schedules agreed, printing presses engaged. Ships and emails and posters and trucks and bookstores and teachers (so many teachers) and librarians (so, so many librarians) will each do their part.

All of us part of the adventure, reading the stories of people that fight the shadows so that we can learn to be the kind of people that fight the shadows that would threaten our own world. To ensure that children have enough food so that adults need not go to war. To clean the air and water. To serve more than ourselves. And, in our spare time, to ride a hella cool mountain bike.

Come on along, Kibuishi says, in a voice that sounds like Mr Rogers and Hayao Miyazaki, just as soon as it’s ready. In the meantime, we’ve got eight books that could stand a re-read or twenty.

Spam of the day:

Memorial Day Solar Savings

You’re … you’re pretty far away from Memorial Day. Did you maybe mean another day? I’m reliably informed today is National Scarf Day, National Crush A Can Day, National Chocolate Milk Day, and National Corned Beef Hash Day.

¹ The day after release Kibuishi tweeted that he’s doing research for Book 9, then production, then printing and distro — it’ll be a while. The only thing we know — some of that research involved ambulances. Take from that what you will.

² Kibuishi is an enthusiastic mountain biker, and the extended sequence his hobby inspired is just plain awesome. Does it advance the bigger messages of the series? Nope. But sometimes, you just have to put your character on a barely-controlled bike careening down the biggest mountainside in the known universe, constantly half a heartbeat away from eating it like nobody has ever eaten it before.

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