September 26, 2011

Review: Nebador - The Journey - J. Z. Colby

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Hello everyone!

I just recently finished the second and third books on the Nebador series, called "The Journey" and "The Selection", but I am here today to talk about "The Journey".

After your read Nebador Book One: The Test, you are left with a sense that it may be grand, but you're not quite sure. You like it and you think it's very informative and interesting - but's not quite loveable. You have several characters: one ship’s captain, one innkeeper's daughter, nine ex-slaves and several secondary characters like Doti, the healer, Pica the painter, the baker, Sata’s parents and so on. It’s even quite hard to remember who are the boys and the girls, since their names are so alike.
Everything changes on The Journey. Suddenly, we understand them. We follow them around their country, their realm, and see them interacting with the several experiences in life – from different people to different ideas, from customs to dangers, from trusting people unconditionally to weighing your options.

We follow along their lessons of math, English, logic, trigonometry, geometry and, well, things that I honestly barely remembered from high school. But that’s not the most important part, and I’m sure Ilika thought that way as well, the most important part was to see how they interact with the world. Or else he would have just taken them somewhere and stayed there until they were all done.

Around half the book, we can be pretty sure who we are leaving behind and who’s going to the ship. We have one innkeeper’s daughter and 8 former slaves, all wanting to get into Ilika’s ship, which we are sure isn’t like a normal ship and, well, most likely not even from this world. And yet, there’s place for only 5 crew members, so 4 of them must go.

I had only one or two doubts on who was going, after a while, but near the end J. Z. Colby almost had me confused: he almost made me lose one of my favorite characters and one I was sure to get in the ship…

You may relate more to one or another character, but their strengths and weaknesses aren’t much obvious, they are subtle. You can see who’s strong in math and who’s strong in English, you can also notice who’s a strong leader (like Boro and Kibi) and who’s made for more following than leading, who’s made for more dreaming than doing, who’s more emotional, who’s cool and rational.

Until the end of the book, I finally could tell who was a boy and who was a girl (with one very small exception – I couldn’t tell who Rini was until around half of “The Selection”), I could tell where couples were forming and where they were set apart. I could tell who’s making in the ship and who wasn’t (at least have a very strong guess) and I could sense their differences. They weren’t just young teens, they weren’t ex-slaves or innkeeper’s daughters anymore, they were people of the world. They were people of the universe, even, as they knew much more than most people on their world knew.

Also we are introduced to a new character, Misa. She's a young girl, younger than the ex-slaves and innkeeper's daughter, Misa is a survivor on a major tragedy the team walks through, they save her and since she has no family, she stays with them until the very end - the separation. She's the only one not being considered to Ilika's staff, but she's also picking up some of the lessons and all, so she's getting something out of everything.

Ilika, too, was changed by them, as he should be. Kibi, more than the others, I suppose, which strikes me as slightly unfair – she had a certain spot on the ship. The fact that her abilities could also be used (leadership and people skills) were secondary to Ilika’s affection to her, so there were 4 spots left for everyone else. But ok. I can deal with that. Ilika was also changed by the situations. One of the harder ones being Lumber Town, I believe, and the cave during high tide, where they were under tremendous stress. He could deal with it, but he also had to direct them and that was harder than just dealing with the situation.

I thought the book was great, it was exciting and everything could happen – because they were free. They were off to an exciting and dangerous world and they were friends. Even if they had their diferences, if they had any issues, they'd work it out or work around them. Some of them weren't fit for ship crew, but that doesn't mean they aren't spectacular human beings.

I just now, looking for links and images for this post, found the "Deep Learning Notes". I love them. They make me think but don't give answers and they would've been very interesting to read while I read the book (at each chapter, for example). If you are interested in learning (and, if you liked the Nebador Series I am sure you do), I strongly advise you to use them.

After I finished it, I was supposed to read another book, but I rationalized (somehow) that I had to read The Selection. And I advise you all to do the same - buy all 3 books together (or the "Nebador Trilogy" version), or, better yet, make it 4, since book 4 is out too and read them all. It is all worth it. I want to read it all over again now... But maybe some other time, after I work out part of my TBR pile.

Also, on a side note, I feel much more attached to this book now that I wrote the review. Thinking about the book and researching to tell you about it, made me think about the subtle details on the plot and read the Depp Learning Notes and the short stories on the series' website. It's another thing that makes me glad about having a blog - you end up loving your loved books even more.

You can buy Nebador: The Journey at several places, including Amazon (paperback and Kindle versions), you can find a list of all sellers here.