Thursday, May 28, 2015

Until The Beginning by Amy Plum: Review


When Juneau's clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people's gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village.

Juneau and her new companion Miles's cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau's people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too, because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people - and herself - Juneau must discover what she, and her abilities, are truly capable of.


You will be captured. There will be a battle. Whether a battle of wills or an actual physical struggle, I can't tell. But I see you at the center of it. And when the end comes, your regular weapons won't help you - I read that as meaning both physical and mental weapons... meaning your Reading and Conjuring. Instead you must Invoke.

I wasn't exactly a big fan of After The End. It wasn't bad, but it just didn't capture my attention the way the other books did. The ending though... it's quite an impressive cliffhanger ending, so I was still somewhat curious about the development of the story. Until The Beginning is much better than After The End, and there are some things that I actually like. Although there are moments of confusion and unnecessary stretching of the plot, it's still a somewhat satisfying sequel.

The plot here is much more straightforward. After saving Miles from almost certain death, Juneau tries to free her clan from the greedy hands of the modern world, with Miles' help. Of course, some secrets are unveiled along the way, and betrayal is present. But, it's not hard to see the outcome of the story, and how the relationship between Juneau and Miles will grow. Being predictable doesn't mean it's not enjoyable, though. There are a lot of pivotal moments of Juneau discovering the truth of the Yara. We also get to discover the depths of some of the characters' minds, especially Miles'. The tender and fun conversations between Juneau and Miles are abundant, which is more than fine by me. The only problem I have with the plot is that the explanation for the Yara and other stuff related to it is still too simple for me. While the fact that there are less information dumping is good, the concept of the Yara is still... somewhat unreasonable. We cannot ignore the fact that the writing and the plot has improved quite a bit, and for now that's enough.

In this book, Yara, Gaia and stuff related to them is more of a natural force than a freaky superpower demonstrated in After The End. It's more of a good thing than a bad thing. For one, the so-called scientific explanation for this kind of things are not very scientific by today's standards. They are like super simplified version of a phenomenon at its best. Thinking it as a natural force explained by a sort-of religious concept somehow makes more sense to me. This is one of the reason why I couldn't relate to After The End. The explanation was simply too ridiculous for me to sort through. This book has its paranormal facts organized and it's much better than the mess in the first book.

I'm not sure if there's another book after this, considering it ends in a nice note. Unless it has some dynamic plot waiting for us, I'm not sure I will pick this up again. Either way, the sequel has shown improvements and I'm happy about it.

Rating: 7/10

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