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- Publié sur Amazon.com
Abarat certainly is an amazing creation.
While reading the book, I was swept away by the brilliance of the dark and powerful artwork that Barker created. The interior art gave the book a texture and feeling that it would have lacked otherwise, much like John R. Neill's artwork added layers to Baum's (and others) Oz books.
Candy Quackenbush is a fairly normal, average girl. I was pleased to see this, because far too often we find authors creating unfashionable, socially inept, or withdrawn characters that they want us to feel sympathy for. There's a good reason that many authors seek to do that - there's *nothing* like rooting for the underdog. Granted, there is a scene of embarrassment in the very beginning of the book, but Candy's reaction to the embarrassment isn't to go off and cry about it - she takes matters into her own hands. So what we are left with is feeling proud of her, and that is what authors should strive for. The characters on the page need to create some form of powerful emotion within us, and it doesn't always need to be pity.
Her own hands - and her feet - lead her to a field with a dilapidated lighthouse where she meets one of the most original and odd characters I've ever come across in children's, young adult, or adult fantasy - the John brothers. And then immediately the story kicks into overdrive, as Mendelson Shape, a creature out of nightmares, assails them, looking to retrieve something that the John brothers have stolen. Through an act of heroism, Candy calls a sea to the plains of Minnesota - the Sea of Izabella, and the sea transports her and the John brothers to the Abarat, an astonishing archipelago of dizzying diversity.
Candy's encounters in the sea, and her immediate encounters on reaching Abarat, make for rapid page turning. There is simply so much to see, so much that is different than any experience we have come upon before.
But then the story slows down, and becomes, for far too long, a tour of Abarat and an introduction to fanciful creatures. There is absolutely no question that Abarat is an invention to be marveled at, and that the fanciful creatures possess highly unique qualities that are entertaining, but it's simply too much, and there isn't much happening other than a game of bait and chase. Candy has caught the eye of Christopher Carrion - who serves as the Dark Lord of this series, though there are other enemies - and he wants the item that the John brothers stole (and gave to Candy for safekeeping) and Candy herself. He has an odd sensation that he has seen her before, and gradually becomes obsessed with her.
I believe that books should have distinguishable plot and character arcs, and that the ending of a book should complete all of the various arcs. Abarat left quite a bit up for grabs. There wasn't much of an ending - only a wrap up in the final chapter to prepare us for the next book, and while it should be obvious from all of the groundwork laid in Abarat that there is a wild and exciting adventure ahead, nothing was resolved.
One might argue that the first two books of The Lord of the Rings had no discernible ending, and no arcs were resolved. However, that book was written as one book. The publisher, for various reasons, decided to cut the book into three - forever cementing into the minds of those who read fantasy the concept of the need of a trilogy to make something complete, for better or worse. Abarat isn't like The Fellowship of the Ring or The Two Towers. It is supposed to be a stand alone book, and instead it seems more like an extended prologue.
That aside, this was one heck of a story. I'm not going to fault Barker too much for not tidying up before he moved on to the second book. The real test will be the second book - if it lives up to this rather overwhelming creation. We'll see.
The artwork, the sense of closeness to the events as they occurred, and the uniqueness of Abarat make this a four star review. Normally books that don't resolve arcs get lower marks from me, but in the end I was so impressed with Barker's creation that I found that deviation forgiveable.