4 out of 4 stars
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I rate Second Earth by Cami Murdock Jensen as 4 out of 4 stars because I really enjoyed the story, found it well written, and almost perfectly edited. This book can be easily read as a stand alone book, as I have not read the prior book in this series, yet immediately slipped into these new worlds and felt I knew the characters.
The greatest strength of the book is the characters. Even though there has been a prior book in the series, the author quickly brings the character to life in a way that isn’t cumbersome to someone who has read the prior book. Agnes is the archmage of Second Earth (where there is no magic), but she is just a teenager who doesn’t understand her abilities. Luckily, she has good people (and dragons) around her to help guide her. So much of her magic is instinctual, but not necessarily controlled despite being extremely powerful. The reader can immediately empathize with her seeming normalcy in most situations. Temnon, aka Tem, is her peer, sort of. They are the same age and both welcome in the High Court, but he is part of the royal family and fluent with his magic. Tem is Agnes’ main mentor as he is far more proficient in magic than she. They rely on each other and together they heroically stumble their way through this adventure. Dominath is my favorite minor character. This fierce, proud, and amusing dragon is amazing. He appears far less than Rein or Sempira, and is not as strong a character, but he remains my favorite.
The book begins with Agnes on a plane to a beautiful island to expand her knowledge and abilities. In the very first lesson with Temnon, they translocate into snowy Boston, almost breaking cover (magic not being allowed), and then translocate into an adventure of saving Earth from her living core. There is quite a bit of stumbling around to understand abilities which certainly builds the excitement. Through the adventure, Temnon and Agnes’ relationship strengthens. Agnes becomes more and more fluent with her abilities, and her fellow rescuers learn how to best work together. Dominath offers almost no guidance, but he shares a bit of history. Agnes’ long lost ghost ancestor is far more helpful. Soon there are four young mages slipping through the ocean, earth’s crust, and magma to learn more of Earth’s core’s secrets. Risking their lives through drowning, suffocation, or burning solidifies the friendships, albeit rivalries, of these young magicians. I love the well thought out details of the writing. Not every author remembers to include the intense cold seeping through magical armor as one is being attacked by a giant squid, leagues deep in the ocean. The continuous action from teleporting miscalculations, to earthquakes, to siren song drive the story forward keeping the reader riveted. A few major and minor characters are lost, but this bit of somber loss gives power to the story. And who can’t resist an adorable kitten at the end?
I found myself quickly diving into this book and wanting to just read the whole thing all at once. The author did a fantastic job of making each character come immediately to life and easy to remember. The magic and fantasy were easy to understand. My one little problem reading the book was that I kept mixing up First Earth and Second Earth. Later, Third Earth, Fourth Earth, Fifth Earth, and Sixth Earth were also mentioned, but I didn’t need to remember those, thank goodness.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book be offered in any middle school classroom or general library. I can think of several middle school boys and girls I shall recommend the series to as soon as I see them. There is no profanity, sexuality, or religious scenes in the book. It is fantasy fiction so there are magic and dragons, should someone find that uncomfortable. I enjoyed this book and am happy to share this review.
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