Penumbras (Middle School Magic #2) by Braden Bell, YR, 2013, 305p, Rating=4.5
Source: paperback copy provided by publisher/author in exchange for an honest review
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Conner Dell didn't mean to blow up the school bus. Or the bathrooms. In fact, he only wanted to go to sleep and possibly dream about Melanie Stephens. But explosions had a funny way of happening when Conner and his friends were around. *** Conner Dell wants to be good--he really does. But he is terrified that he might be turning into a Darkhand, especially when new powers start to surface. What's worse, the Stalker is following Conner, but no one else seems to be able to see him. The Magi think he might be hallucinating, the guilt of what happened in the Shadowbox keeps weighing on him, and his relationship with Melanie Stephens is complicating things. Even for a Magi, Conner knows his life is anything but normal.
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Having not read the first book, I spent a good part of the read trying to get a handle on who's who and what's what. I think that if I had read the first installment, then it wouldn't have taken me as long to get a feel for the adventures that was laid before me. No matter, the briefing was there (one too many for me ..got repetitive), it just took me a little longer to get into the groove. Maybe reading this when I was tired and sleepy didn't help either. But whoa, did I perk up towards the last quarter of the book! There were predictable moments (hint: light vs dark) but I'm kidding myself. They were more a reader's wish come true. "Please, please don't let this be", you beg the read, and boom!, there's hope. So although you can guess where it might surely go, you can't really be certain that the author will take you there. But when he does take you there (or nearly there), then you cry, you smile, and you're promising yourself to read the next installment even if it means skipping a meal to pay for it. Truly, a beautiful book with an equally handsome cliffhanger.
The returning trio Magi students were great compliments to each other (physical, mental, spiritual). They, along with the teachers, fed life to the book. The addition of Pilaf was fantastic. He's my favorite and not only because I thought of rice at every mention of his name (hehe) but that he's innocently charming. I'm especially looking forward to seeing him in the third book and Dumbledore, I mean "this man".
I enjoyed the creation of the characters that accented their unique gifts. I like the message that such unique talents breathe confidence and purpose. Moreover, I really admired the lovely relationship between the teachers and students. Teachers really do care about their students in this middle school and will go to great lengths to protect them ..vice versa. Most of all, I like the subtle teaching of the principle that spiritual support (the Comforter, *term not from the book*) always abides and can overcome all darkness, even at the most bleakest moments. Cliché, but never too old for me!