Genre: YA Sci/fi-Fantasy
# of pages: 480 pages (UK paperback)
Amelia's Age-Level Suggestion: 14< (probably better suited for 8th/9th grade level and up)
Disclaimer: For those who have read Incarceron, or for those who are planning to read Incarceron: I've altered my usual review style and made it a little more vague just to be absolutely sure that I don't include any spoilers... so feel free to read this and maybe get a good idea of what is in store in this book.
This book was pretty good. I think I enjoyed it more than Incarceron, pretty much because I was familiar enough with the basic storyline and didn’t have to spend so much time figuring everything out. The pacing was pretty good, but the last 100 pages really, REALLY dragged…and it got to the point where I came dangerously close to not caring anymore…that’s not usually a good sign.
And yet… I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t like the book, because I did…but Catherine Fisher is not the greatest author on the planet, and her writing style actually aggravated me. You know the phrase “show, don’t tell”? Well, she pretty much tells how characters feel/act, she doesn’t show. Characterization is definitely not her strong suit in this series – everybody was pretty wooden and it was hard for me to relate to them because they didn’t seem very real. There was just this hollow, shell-like feel to her characters and that was a major distraction. Claudia, in particular, was just incredibly frustrating. She was easier to relate to in Incarceron because you understood *why* she acted like such a conceited brat. In Sapphique, pretty much all of her conflicts have been resolved, so why is she still so MEAN?! It was stuff like this that made reading Sapphique a bit cumbersome. I didn’t really like Keiro, either, because to me he seems like the embodiment of Evil: he’s an individual with pretty much no conscience – he doesn’t know compassion or remorse, and according some of my teachers (and the Harry Potter series), true evil is that which is excessively vain and devoid of compassion or remorse for one's actions. I’ll admit it: I like it when characters “get their comeuppance” and he didn’t get any comeuppance!
Also, the ending…very mediocre and a bit bizarre. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ending just really didn’t make sense if you take into account the overall story. It seems like Catherine Fisher spent so much time creating this really intense situation, and then the ending comes and it’s “ta da! We’re finished now! The end!” I think the first thing I said when I finished Sapphique was, “ohhhkay…I’m hungry.” Let’s compare that to another book…oh, say…The Last Olympian. I finished that book and was like, “OMG!!! WHAT AM I GOING TO READ NOW?!?!?!” *hyperventilates*
It was a pretty engrossing read, most of the way through. Catherine’s exceptionally imaginative, and the Incarceron series is one of the most thoroughly original books I’ve ever read in my life. However, her books aren’t the best books I’ve ever read.
Strengths: creativity and action.
Weaknesses: very wooden and shallow characters and a spiraling last 100 pages…and a lackluster ending.
V: this book was “darker” than Incarceron, I think, and so there was more action-violence and scary images; about a PG-13 level
S: a few innuendos, nothing major, but parents of >12 should be cautioned
L: swearing present, nothing ‘major’ but still present. My age recommendation: 13/14+ (great for older middle schoolers/high schoolers…oh and grown-ups too!)
Final Rating: 3.9/5. Almost a 4, but just a little under.