Amulet–Book Six: Escape from Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi
Published by Scholastic, August 26, 2014. Softcover of 215 pages at $12.99. Also available as an ebook. Intended for ages 8 – 12.
The cover: A dark elf’s face is at the top of this illustration, which becomes eclipsed by a Colossus robot containing Navin Hayes (great last name), Alyson Hunter, and a robot. The logo of the book and Kazu Kibuishi’s name are across the monstrous robot’s chest, and below them are Vigo, Emily, and Trellis. All of their amulets are lit and they look to be walking into some sort of swirling mist that can only by the Void. This is the perfect book cover because it looks like a movie poster. Great show piece for all the leads without spoiling anything within. This is how covers should be done. Overall grade: A+
The premise: From the back cover, “A worthy mission…or a trap? Navin and his classmates journey to Lucien, a city ravaged by war and plagued by mysterious creatures, where they search for a beacon essential to their fight against the Elf King. Meanwhile, Emily heads back into the Void with Max, one of the Elf King’s loyal followers, where she learns his darkest secrets. The stakes, for both Emily and Navin, are higher than ever.” Having never read an Amulet book before, I was grateful for this quick summary which gave me an idea of what to expect, without giving anything away. This sounds interesting. Overall grade: B+
The characters: Navin Hayes is a good everyman, or everyboy, character who’s popular, seems to be part of a prophecy, yet is continually placed in the background by those who seem to want to bring him down. He doesn’t whine about what falls his way, instead trying to make the most of a bad situation, and doing whatever needs to be done to keep his friends safe. He was a very enjoyable individual. Emily was also a strong character with her battle confronting the inner demons of a friend. She has several opportunities to become self-righteous or over-the-top hero, but Kibuishi keeps her grounded as a real person, and that’s what made her interesting. Alyson Hunter is a friend of Navin who knows he can succeed, and tells him so often, and that’s what you would want to see a friend do. The villains of the book are twofold. Max, the human envoy of the Elves is Emily’s thorn, while Navin and Alyson have to deal with the Shadows or Dark Scouts. Max is a traditional traitor who relishes his great power, and there’s a major turn with his character, while the Shadows are nonspeaking entities that are pretty scary. I believed every character’s words and motivations and was glad that they weren’t clichés. Overall grade: A
The settings: There’s an amazingly wide variety of settings in this book that would please any lover of science fiction, fantasy, or action. The ships of the humans are reminiscent of classic 1970’s Japanese anime shows, which carry robot workers and giant robots that are piloted by people. It’s very industrial and futuristic. The Elves’ ship is very streamlined, as befitting them in most fantasies, and carries technology that’s more magical than mechanical. Lucien is a wrecked and abandoned city that holds a neater environment below its surface. Things became positively Steampunkish. The Void was a pure fantasy setting, complete with woods and grandiose dwellings. I enjoyed every location the book went to and the final two pages promise so much more to come. Overall grade: A+
The action: Where to start? People powered robots, monstrous spirits that devour your essence, Dark Elves, and memories that can kill. If you are bored by five pages in a row, though I couldn’t understand why would be, don’t fret–something will soon happen that will have you flipping pages uncontrollably to see how our heroes survive. There’s plenty of tech and fantasy action. Exciting stuff! Overall grade: A+
The conclusion: There isn’t one, as this book leaves off with a tease, albeit a beautiful one, for the next installment. I was satisfied that the characters grew with the events of this book, and some didn’t survive. Very, very entertaining. Overall grade: A+
The art: This is the truest example of a graphic novel: it was created to be in this format and not just collected after being published in monthly installments. The credits read as follows: Illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi, Lead Production Artist: Jason Caffoe; Colors & Background: Caffoe, Kibuishi, Tim Probert, Alice Duke, Jeffrey Delgado, Dave Montes, and Mary Cagle; Page Flatting: Cagle, Preston Do, Crystal Kan, Megan Brennan, and Stuart Livingston. This book looks amazing. A gorgeous blend of science fiction and fantasy with artwork that will impress and colors that are beautiful. Everyone deserves to be congratulated for their contributions. Overall grade: A+
The final line: When I was reading this my twelve year old daughter asked why I had gotten into her bedroom to take her book. I said I didn’t know she had read these books, let alone owned them. Her response was, “Everybody in my school has read those books, Daddy. Everybody knows they’re good.” I’m now happy to be part of “everybody.” This was really good and I could see this series appealing to adults as much as the younger audience it’s intended for. This has a complex story to capture imaginations and visuals to keep them fully locked in a world of wonder. I better have my daughter dig out the previous five books so I can see what I’ve been missing. Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.