Review: Shades of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

2 starDisclaimer: This book is the third in a series of at least four books, of which the forth has yet to be released.  Extensive reviews for the first two books do not exist, but short reviews can be found on my Goodreads page (link up top or to the side).  This review does not have major spoilers for the first two books but has minor spoilers for this book.

Result: 2 stars out of 5. Overall the book was not as good as the previous ones in the series and I had several major issues with the content.  Despite this, the book was a decent read and I will likely finish off the rest of the series.

Summary (of the series):

Best friends Veronica and Mackenna have just finished high school and have an epic adventure planned in Scotland.  However little do they know that their adventures are going to be more epic then they expected when they stumble upon the kingdom of Doon which is kept out of space and time by an enchantment.  As it turns out Doon is in danger and only Veronica and Mackenna can help save it from the hands of the evil witch.

Review:

One of the major things that I appreciate about this book over the first two in the series is that there were fewer blatant instances of assault against Veronica and Mackenna.  In the past books Jamie and Duncan (and sometimes Fergus) would roughly grab one of the female characters and hold them/prevent them from leaving, would kiss them without consent and be generally abusive.  There were a marked drop in cases of assault in this book which while it’s great, is sad that I have to bring that up as a good thing.  It really does not matter the circumstances of the book, to put it blatantly these things are assault and the previous novels did nothing to comment on/address how this is not how you treat other humans beings.  Instead it seemed to romanize it which is a dangerous thing to do in novels marketed to young women.

Trying to think of other good things to say about this book has be stalled in writing this blog post as there are so many things I can find wrong with this book that resulted in the 2 star rating. The plot was interesting enough but I found parts lacking for reasons I’ll talk about shortly.  The characters were interesting enough but I wasn’t really invested in any of the main characters, only really the side characters which were more bland in this book than in the previous ones.  I will give partial points for managing to – for the most part- hide who was culprit in the book, I thought it was going to be someone else for reasons of a pattern I saw in the author’s writing throughout the first two books.  That’s, sadly, about all of the good I can think of for this book.

On to the bad.  The first thing I’m going to mention is something I took issue to that the authors likely didn’t intend but I need to comment on.  In one scene of the book there is a meeting going on and Sophia was told by a male member of the committee to take notes.  What is wrong with this I hear you ask.  Well she is on equal standing in the committee as basically everyone else on the committee, including the man who asked her to take notes.  For me its a scene that re-enforces certain sexist practices.  Sophia is of equal standing and should have equal opportunity to participate in the meeting which she cannot do when taking notes, something that is both critical for meetings such as this, but is typical looked down upon as ‘woman’s’ work.  As I said, I doubt the authors meant much in this action, but I want to bring this up how this practice in real life is problematic.

On to more realistic critics I have, I took an issue to the writing style of Langdon and Crop in this book.  They adopted a style of telling and not showing.  When the princes were in America and got to experience what is basically the future for the first time this interesting part of the novel is brushed over for less interesting parts (a fundraising party, really??) and when commented on it’s told what happened instead of showing. I blog post about the difference can be found here but overall what I mean about this is that the authors write in a style that does not evoke much feeling for the characters or the situation.

Another aspect of the writing style that I found more irritating than in previous books was the wordy and expositiony introduction to every chapter.  The chapters would often change partway through a scene, which is fine and can be interesting to see what is going on in the mind of another character, however, the authors would introduce each chapter with about a page of exposition before getting back into the action which would through the reader out of the action more that help move the story along.

The second book ended in a ‘cliffhanger’.  This book picked up and brushed aside what happened in the last book (‘I almost died but I’m fine now’, another instance of telling not showing).  I knew what the issue was and it was addressed much later in the book, but the fact that the authors just brushed aside what happened irked me, caused me to put down the book and not pick it up for a long time (I had to force myself to finish it off so that I could move on with other things) and caused me to write an entire blog post about cliffhangers.

A further problem I have had throughout the three books but have yet to mention is the author’s need to make the characters ‘hip’ by adding in ‘relatable’ content such as theatre and real life references.  This more often threw me out of the book and/or confused me because I know nothing about theatre than adding to the book.  Furthermore, the insistant need to have the main characters kiss every other chapter is grating.  There is only so many times I can read about kissing, which is described at length for over a page or two every three chapters before I want to start ripping pages out of the book.  It is boring, unnecessary and gratuitous.  Please just stop.

Finally and maybe the most important writing style issue I have is the misnaming of “American Indians”.  THEY. ARE. NOT. CALLED. THAT.  It’s Native American people.  Use that terminology.  They ARE NOT Indians.

That is the writing style issues I had.  There were also a number of inconsistencies in the book that I will try and describe briefly.  Firstly there is an instance of ribbons appearing where they should be.  Neglecting to keep track of objects/people/hands/etc in a novel is a pet peeve of mine.  Running water in Doon makes no sense considering the infrastructure needed to make flush toilets and showers similar to ours (which is how they are always described) is not present in Doon.  The properties of the bridge which were established in the previous books are broken and the rings suddenly appear as needed in the book.  Finally, the timeline of the part of the book that takes place in America makes no sense.  It is very unlikely that the princes got to America and find Veronica and Mackenna as quickly as they did.  

Overall, these seemingly small issues built up to make me not really enjoy this book.

Last thoughts:

Though I mentioned I will be finishing off this series,  it’s more because I want to see the end of the series rather than a strong interest.

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