REVIEW: Grim Tuesday by Garth Nix

REVIEW: Grim Tuesday by Garth NixGrim Tuesday (The Keys to the Kingdom #2) by Garth Nix
Published: Scholastic Press (2004), Hardcover, 336pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction

The second remarkable installment in The Keys to the Kingdom, from spellbinding bestseller Garth Nix.
Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues. Seven sins. One mysterious house is the doorway to a very mysterious world--where one boy is about to venture and unlock a number of fantastical secrets.

Arthur doesn't think he will ever have to return to the strange house that nearly killed him on Monday--the house that contains an entire world. But Tuesday brings new challenges--in the form of an enemy named Grim Tuesday, who threatens the well-being of both Arthur's family and his world. Arthur must retrieve the Second Key from Grim Tuesday in order to save everything--an adventure that will include stealing a Sunship, surviving a very weird work camp, befriending a bear-like spirit, fighting the void-like Nithlings, and traveling in the scary Far Reaches for the ultimate showdown. (from Goodreads)

Grim Tuesday, like Mister Monday, is full of stuff. Good stuff and bad stuff! Mostly good stuff, of course, because I did rate this thing a solid 3.5 stars. But the bad stuff is distracting me from how much I liked this book while I read it. We’ll get to that in a moment; for now:

Good points:
I like how the characters actually have layers! Like, Arthur isn’t just a hero-kid. He’s scared, he’s brave, he worries about his family even as he’s trying to defeat the baddie, and slowly but surely he’s turning more into a King Arthur sort of person. Likewise, the bad guys also have layers, although their layers tend to be corruption on top of sloth on top of cruelty, etc. It’s really neat, though, because you can kinda see how they went from upstanding citizens to…something else. They did it to themselves, too, because they broke up the contract and defied the rules. Moral stuff! Yay?

Speaking of the contract: each part of the contract has different personalities! This makes for good reading, because how boring would it be if they were all the same? The first bit of contract (from Mister Monday) is stuffy and proper; the second bit is lazy and SUPER proper but only in a way that benefits its laziness. Also, it’s a cuddly bear. So cute!

The Architect is a woman! Did I mention that before? A good thing about Garth Nix (and a point in his favor about NOT going the obvious route maybe) is that he tends to take things that you expect to be one way, and then turn them a bit so they’re more interesting. So while you might have expected the supreme creator to be a dude (like in most Judeo-Christian western fantasy books), turns out– she’s not! Yay!

Garth Nix’s fantasy books also almost always have a kind of dreamy terror to them that I very much enjoy (see: Sabriel).

And I suppose that the slow character development is a point for pacing because it happens in a realistic way instead of all at once in a ridiculous mess of STUFF.

Bad points:
The structure is exactly the same as the first book, including the danger-> heroics -> defeat the baddie plot sequence. It’s so short that there’s really no room for anything but that, which just makes me miss the Abhorsen books even more because they’re basically perfect.

So here’s the problem: if each book is a copy of itself, then even if there’s great character stuff/exciting fantasy-horror stuff, etc., I’m going to be super bored. I’ve kinda gotten over enjoying books that’re the same plots over and over again– I can hang on for a few books but eventually I have to give up. Likewise, I’m pretty sure I can see the entire shape of the series, since it seems to be following the “level up” style of action/fantasy hero series.

I mean, I could be wrong! Garth Nix could kill Arthur halfway through the series and bring in some other kid. Or Arthur could turn evil. Or Arthur could give the keys to someone else. Or any number of things– but I doubt it. Despite his love of twisting things just slightly, I can’t see Garth Nix twisting things THAT far out of wack. And I’m guess I’m just not really feeling it right now.

I’ll keep reading the series, especially since– despite my issues with the copycat plotline– I did very much enjoy reading Grim Tuesday! But it may take me a while. I need to get over the disappointment of the obvious plotline.

Read: May 24, 2013

Have you ever been disappointed by a book series’ obvious plot structure? The last time this happened was, I think, with the Sookie Stackhouse series. I can see how people might be comforted by the similarity between books, but it’s just not my thing. What about you?

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