Melina Marchetta had me at “The Piper’s Son” (2011): strong voice, compelling characters, heart-wrenching plot.
Most agonizing, protagonist Tom Mackee typed raw and emotive emails to the girl who held his bloody heart in her hands…
When had a young man’s soul been revealed in such a vulnerable manner? Marchetta’s use of this contemporary communication tool was brilliant. Had she penned other young adult masterpieces?
In “Saving Francesca” (2004), I discovered a younger Tom- still compelling. But Francesca’s story took precedence. Here was a girl struggling to remain sane while her mother clung to the bedposts, trapped within a debilitating depression. I’d discovered another captivating read. Francesca and her psycho girlfriends’ gutsy call for female equality offered comic relief in the midst of some pretty heavy stuff, garnering laughs despite the war on women.
Marchetta’s gripping novel,”On the Jellicoe Road” (2008) won the 2009 Michael L. Prinz Award and it was rumored she was writing the screenplay.
What a surprise to discover the Australian also wrote fantasy! I began with the first in her Lumatere Chronicles, titled “Finnikin of the Rock” (2010), As with her contemporary fiction, Finnikin, Evanjalin and their cast of minor characters proved well-developed, motivated from within toward love and honor in a shattered world.
The second in The Lumatere Chronicles, “Froi of the Exiles” was released in 2012. With this novel, cracks in her architectural concrete began to appear.
Stories require time to cure. If a publisher demands an author write to deadline, the mix does not always react chemically, i.e., story lines do not bind, forming a cohesive whole.
I believe this was the case with “Froi of the Exiles”. Despite all the wonderful online reviews, this book did not measure up to the standards Marchetta, herself, has set for her work. I venture to guess that, given more time, Marchetta would have interwoven her various sands and gravels, added water and generated a solid performance.
As it was, “Froi of the Exiles” achieved uneven moments of brilliance interspersed with much ho-hum confusion. Finniken and Isaboe became dull caricatures of their former selves. Frosty interactions between Froi and his father Gargarin were repetitious and unbelievable. Froi’s love interest Quintana proved irrational and eccentric. So much angst seemed destined to fill 600 pages rather than advance the story.
In the end, I found myself finishing the book as a means to an end more than an end in itself. The middle of a triology contains its key- Frodo bore Tolkien’s Ring through three literary legends with heart and gusto. J.K. Rowling’s Potter survived seven, with tight outlining to create integrated momentum.
Marchetta shouldn’t be expected to produce on a level with such Masters of the Trade. And so I await the final book of her trilogy, accepting “Froi of the Exiles” as its glue.
“Quintana of Charyn” will be released in Colorado on March 12, 2013. Anticipation is high- Boomerang Books of Australia release date was September of 2012 and labeled it “the spine-tingling and unforgettable final volume in the Lumatere Chronicles.”
“The point is, how do you know the Guarantee Fairy isn’t a crazy glue sniffer?” Chris Farley