North! Or Be Eaten: Choppy At First, But Ends Strongly

North! Or Be Eaten is written by Andrew Peterson. It was published in 2009 by Waterbrook Press. It is the sequel to On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.

Spoilers for On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.

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!

As with On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, it took me a while to get into the book. As much as I enjoy the quirkiness of the world, at the beginning I wished it was a bit more serious. But once Peterson hits the tension, the book gets really good. I do wish that it was slightly less uneven, though. The seriousness of the events happening does not mesh well with the silliness of the world, in my opinion. In fact, once the serious things start happening, the silliness stands out even more as really odd and out of place.

I thought Janner in the first book was annoying, but in this book, he really developed a lot and came into his own. The point where I really got involved in the book was when Janner gets taken to the Fork Factory. That’s where I thought Peterson finally started balancing things better than in the beginning. I’m hoping that Peterson continues the Janner-centric viewpoints in the next books, because Janner is looking to become a very awesome character. Also because I can’t stand either Tink or Leeli. They’re both boring, flat characters, especially Leeli, who’s like this bundle of golden candy floss that makes your teeth ache every time she’s in a scene. At least Tink had an interesting development at the end (also, thank goodness they’re calling him Kalmar now. Tink is an awful nickname).

Peet! You remain both awesome and tragic.

Also, the Triple Twist Reveal at the end involving the dragons’ warning is pretty cool. I wasn’t expecting that.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Some slightly gruesome details.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

“Ah!” Oskar said. “I see it now, too.” He studied the cover and binding of the book. “This isn’t the original cover. Whoever replaced it, however many years ago, didn’t know the language either and placed the new cover backward. What we thought was the first page is actually the last. See?”

It all looked the same to Janner, but it was fascinating nonetheless.

“I think, Highness, with what I know of languages and what you remember of Hollish, we might be able to translate this.” Oskar looked at Nia eagerly.

Overall Review:

North! Or Be Eaten starts off slow, but once Janner hit the Fork Factory I couldn’t put it down. I hope that Tink and Leeli get some of the development that Janner got during this book, because as of right now I can’t stand either one of them. I am looking forward to some of the plot developments, though, because Peterson has proven that he can spin a good plot reveal. I just wish that there was a better balance between serious action and plot and silly world.

You can buy this here: North! Or Be Eaten

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