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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hunt for Jade Dragon by Richard Paul Evans

Hunt for Jade Dragon is the fourth book in the awesome Michael Vey series, and fans of the first three books will definitely not be disappointed in this latest installment.  However, I would caution that there seems to be a major shift in focus in this book as compared to the others.

The first three books are totally focused on ACTION ACTION ACTION.  A group of about ten teens, who all have super electric powers, have banded together to fight the evil Elgen corporation.  The Elgen corporation, led by Dr. Hatch, wants nothing more than to exploit the Electroclan (the teens with electric powers) and take over the world.  (I know; the extremeness of that situation is nearly laughable... but it actually feels plausible in these books!)  I have so loved this about these books.  I've been listening to them on audio in my car during my commute, and the nonstop action and adventure has kept my attention and made my drive fly by.

However, Hunt for Jade Dragon takes a bit of a different tack.  This volume feels a bit slower and a bit more mature.  I would have put the first three books in "younger YA," but I'd put this one in the 14-16 year old range.  This isn't a bad thing!  It seems like this series is sort of going the way of Harry Potter; the characters are maturing throughout the books, and the content is too.  In Hunt for Jade Dragon, the reader gets a lot more interaction between the characters:  we see Michael and Taylor go on a date.  (Yes, there's a break in the action long enough for a date in this book!)  It's chaste, but it's nice to see some of the characters get a chance to do regular teen things, like go on a date, instead of constantly (and I do mean constantly!) running/fighting for their lives.  We also see maturity and growth in some of the platonic relationships.  Nichelle, who was on the side of the Elgin in the first book, makes an appearance in Hunt for Jade Dragon.  I wasn't sure how that would play out, but the author really did a great job with those scenes.  They ring very true.  There's not instant forgiveness and friendship, but there's not instant death for Nichelle either.  No "after school special" moments here.

Unfortunately, all of the character moments came at the expense of the action that I'd come to expect from the Michael Vey books.  For nearly the first 2/3 of the book, the Electroclan is traveling from Peru to a "safe house" facility and then to China.  In Battle of the Ampere, the teens manage to get from Idaho to Peru in less than 24 hours.  I think it took them something like a month to get from Peru to the Elgen facility in China.  At one point I thought to myself, "if I hear even one more description of a meal, I'll quit the book."  If you're a foodie, you're in for a treat:  there are numerous descriptions of meals consumed!  I was just sitting there at the edge of my seat waiting for action, though.  Where were the ninjas during dinner?

Once the teens got to China, though, and begin planning the rescue of Jade Dragon, I was all in.  This was definitely their most daring adventure yet.  This time they not only have to outwit the Elgen and their highly trained guards, but they have to do it in such a way so as to not harm the girl they're tasked to rescue.  I just love how the main characters always pull together and use all of their unique talents and knowledge to rise to any challenge.  And a bonus:  the title character of the series, Michael, has Tourette's.  It doesn't define him, but sometimes he has to work around it.  He always triumphs, but I love seeing great series like this that show teens overcoming adversities or disabilities.

And to conclude, a note on the narration:  I was admittedly disappointed to find out that there's a new narrator for this book (as opposed to Kirby Heyborne, who did such a fantastic job with Battle of the Ampere), but Keith Nobbs does a fantastic job!  You might not even notice the narrator switch between books if you weren't looking for it.  The pacing was good and the inflections were just right and I never had to adjust the volume scene to scene.  For me, a good audiobook narration is one in which I can get lost in the story and not even notice the reader, and Keith Nobbs does just that for Hunt for Jade Dragon.

Marie

Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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