Friday, July 5, 2013

Emilie and the Hollow World review

Emilie and the Hollow World

I don't generally read books aimed at teenagers, let alone ones for children. But a colleague of mine who reads a great deal brought Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells in for me because she enjoyed it and thought I might as well. She was correct - while I am not the target audience for this book it was a fun adventure story with really good world building and a premise that was different from anything I had seen previously.

Emilie and the Hollow World came across as fairly young YA and by that I mean it wasn't full of teenage angst and romance. It was a very straightforward fantasy adventure. The characters were decent and well written even if somewhat generic in type. The non-human characters were clearly divided into "good" and "bad" but, with few exceptions, there weren't a lot of detailed characterizations of them.
Emilie came across as younger than the sixteen she's supposed to be but that perhaps is because the book is steampunk and set in Victorian times with the associated moral and societal code that entails. If an age hadn't been given in the book and someone had asked me after I read it, I likely would have said Emilie was fourteen. Again, I think that is merely the difference between Victorian and modern teenagers, though.

I liked Lady Marlende a great deal. She was a strong character and a good role model for Emilie. She protects Emilie without stifling her intellect or curiosity. The rest of the crew seemed equally accepting of Emilie and allowed for her to contribute to the journey which is a good message for kids to read in a book.

Wells is doing a sequel called Emilie and the Sky World that will be published next year. While I am unlikely to read it, I have already recommended Emilie and the Hollow World to two family members who are eleven and thirteen and will be telling them about the second book as well. It's a very family friendly book and I think a large age group would enjoy it.


While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie's plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure. Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende's missing father. With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange races of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again. 

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