Friday, August 21, 2009

Review: North! or Be Eaten

Summary: Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.
In order to survive, the Igibys must flee to the safety of the Ice Prairies, where the lizardlike Fangs of Dang cannot follow. First, however, they have to escape the monsters of Glipwood Forest,1 the thieving Stranders of the East Bend,2 and the dreaded Fork Factory.3

But even more dangerous are the jealousies and bitterness that threaten to tear them apart, and Janner and his siblings must learn the hard way that the love of a family is more important than anything else.

1. All possessing very sharp teeth.
2. Murderous scoundrels, the lot.
3. Woe! -- Waterbrook

I have been reading a lot of middle-grade fiction lately, so I decided to give NORTH! OR BE EATEN by Andrew Peterson a try. I knew My Friend Amy was a big fan of Mr. Peterson's 1st book in the series ON THE EDGE OF THE DARK SEA OF DARKNESS (you can read her review here) as well as his music; and you know how much I respect her opinion... Although I admit that I wasn't without a little hesitation about reading this book. I am not a huge reader of fantasy books and I didn't like that I was starting with the second book in the series - I like to do things in order!

After finished NORTH! OR BE EATEN, I'm still not sure that I'm a huge fan of fantasy books. I enjoyed it, but I don't think I fully appreciated everything the author accomplished in this book. I absolutely wish that I had read the first book in the series before picking up this one because I did have a hard time catching on with all the terms. Because it was a fantasy book, there were lots of make-believe places, creatures, names, etc.; and I just didn't always get it. I'm assuming that had I read the first book before this one, things would have been a little easier to understand; but I just might not be all the bright when it comes to fictional worlds.

Having said my problems with this book (and I definitely think they were my own issues and not overall problems with the story), I did find a lot of very positive things about this story. This book was very exciting, filled with loads of suspense, and contained so many unique creatures. I'm pretty sure that kids would be riveted to the story and on the edge of their seats; and I am almost positive that they would become very involved in the characters' lives.

As a mother, I thought the overall messages in this book were fantastic. In fact, I think NORTH! OR BE EATEN would make a great book for parents and children to read and discuss together. Naturally, there were many instances of good versus evil, but there were also times when the characters (especially Janner) showed wonderful personality traits. I liked that this book showed Janner's strength and resilience as he always tried to do what was right. He was an outstanding example of a young boy who was constantly facing horrific situations yet still had faith and hope -- he never gave up!

Despite all the troubles that the characters faced, NORTH! OR BE EATEN definitely ended on a hopeful note. I still have lots of questions and I am very curious about what the future holds for the Igiby's. I have a feeling that there will be another book or two in this series; however, I am looking forward to reading Book 1 first. I also think when I revisit The Wingfeather Saga series, I will read it aloud with my kids!

One thing is for sure about NORTH! OR BE EATEN. Kids are going to love this book -- I think it will be especially appealing to young boys! There is just so much action and adventure in this story, and the author's descriptions of the fantasy world are amazing! I truly believe that NORTH! OR BE EATEN would be perfect for story time or to read aloud with your children. As I read this novel to myself, I kept thinking that Mr. Peterson wrote this book with the intent that the words to be said out loud. His prose is almost lyrical at times and I think children could imagine the entire story perfectly with his unique writing style. Plus, the chapters are pretty short and ideal for bedtime reading!

There is a fun website devoted to The Wingfeather Saga. I probably should have referenced it a few times while I was reading NORTH! OR BE EATEN because there is so much information about the books. There is a link to the Creaturepedia which gives pictures and descriptions of some very scary creatures. In addition, there are illustrations and maps that appear in the books as well as a Note to the Parents Section. I recommend taking a look at Mr. Peterson's "note" because I thought his message and explanations of his book were great.

A big thanks to for allowing me to participate in the book blog tour for NORTH! OR BE EATEN. Here's a list of the other participants in this tour:

The 160 Acre Woods
A Christian Worldview of Fiction
All About Children’s Books
Becky’s Book Reviews
Cafe of Dreams
Dolce Bellezza
Fireside Musings
Homeschool Book Buzz
My Own Little Corner of the World
My utopia
Novel Teen
Olive Tree
Reading is My Superpower
Through a Child’s Eyes


bermudaonion said...

I'm not a fan of fantasy for the same reason. I have trouble keeping up with the terms, etc. I know lots of people love fantasy - I guess our brains just work a little different.

Beth F said...

I love fantasy, but I haven't read this series yet. I'm glad there were things to like even though this isn't your usual genre.

Let's open doors. Explore said...

Great article! I will definitely check it out...

If you would like to check out the messages I have - and link up - please feel free to do so. I never spam. I'm a dad. Nothing more. I cannot pretend to me something I'm not - but I enjoy writing and the concept of getting everyone involved in this message craze....sure beats viral videos!

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

I really enjoyed reading your take on the book. I'm a fantasy fan (and writer) so I loved the book, but wondered what others thought.

I do think you're right about reading book 1 first. Mr. Peterson introduced a good many of the fantasy elements in that first book. But coming into the second of the series, you're faced with the new things from book 1 on top of the new things he introduced in book 2.

For example, he really set up the Black Carriage in book 1 so it was sort of the ultimate Thing To Fear. That was especially important in book 2, but he didn't spend a lot of time re-establishing the terror the children felt at this threat.

Anyway, thanks for giving such a comprehensive, thoughtful review.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm not a big fan of fantasy but I *really* was when I was younger - maybe we get too jaded as we get older!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I'd never read that book, but what a cool cover.

Amy said...

My nieces loved the first one and have been begging for the second. ;)

I heart AP. ;)

Jenners said...

I relate to the feeling of not wanting to know all the terms/lands etc. in fantasy books ... I tend to forget and have to consult glossaries -- if they have them -- and then I get distracted from the story. But it sounds like a great book to consider for my son when he is older!

Unknown said...

I enjoy fantasy but for adults, not YA, at least not what's being produced nowadays. I am a Lord of the Rings girl and this is the kind of fantasy I'm always going to enjoy.