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The Sacred Texts: The Book of Azrael (The Sacred Texts Series) (Volume 1) Paperback – February 15, 2013
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And boy was it!
Let's talk about the bad and the good.
There wasn't anything "bad" but unfortunately the characters are a wee bit archetypal and uninspired. At most times I found myself not caring too much about what the characters were feeling, and their angry emotions towards each other felt boring and predictable... The author runs into a few cliche problems, but beyond the occasional moment, I was obviously able to keep reading. The plot also felt somewhat linear. It was organized very straight-forward, and didn't leave much room to take a break from the continuous action of moving to the next levels of hell.
One of my favorite chapters was the prologue that features Azrael, the archangel of death. WOW. I felt pulled into the action and was ready to jump into the rest of the book. But honestly, I didn't feel the same intensity until much later. I felt that the adventures of Azrael might've balanced out the linear plot problem that Jaguar's story was facing.
But now that we've got the not so nice stuff out of the way I want to say, if you are a fan of Rick Riordan, or any other YA novel, this still needs to be on your list, because the author's real talent is in exploring the worlds that he imagines. The book is all about traveling through hell. I mean, no other YA author has pulled that off. I am able to vividly imagine each ring perfectly, and get more and more nervous for the characters. The author also combines dozens of mythologies into one, and it's so exciting to read each new piece of world-building he contributes to the story. I loved when the author would have the chapters fall into an explanation of the war between heaven and hell, and it was among my favorite parts of the book.
Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. The reason I mention the characters and plot is because I think that it definitely is an issue that kept this book from being perfect (at least for me). But that's not to say that I still didn't think it was amazing. I most certainly did think it was, and I've been recommending it to people.
I think there's only room to grow in terms of the plot. But I think the author definitely needs to work on building the characters up more if he wants to make The Sacred Texts series a competing player in the YA world, which I definitely think it has the potential to be. There are also some killer cliff hangers at the end of the book that had me flipping through my kindle going "Where's the next page??!?!?!"
I can't wait till the next book in the series. I'll buy it opening day. :)