Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Title:     Lost in Babylon [Seven Wonders, book 2]
Author:   Peter Lerangis
Rating:   ★★★★ 1/2

After my curiousity was aroused by the first book, The Colossus Rises, of the Seven Wonders series, I decided to read the next book, Lost in Babylon. Fortunately, I received an ARC from NetGalley and I was so full of excitement, I ignored my TBR pile and prioritized this.

The adventure continues as Jack and his friends travel to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the pulse-pounding second title in the Seven Wonders series. With Marco gone and the first Loculus lost, Jack, Cass, and Ally are no closer to saving themselves (or the world) than when they first arrived at the Karai Institute. But when Bhegad tracks down Marco deep in the desert, the kids are off on the next leg of their quest-to the ancient city of Babylon. There the kids find themselves faced with a daunting choice that makes them question everything they've learned so far. It's a gut wrenching decision, but what the kids don't realize is that it's also a trap. Surprises pile on surprises until a long-lost figure from Jack's past returns, and the kids find themselves forced to engineer an escape that might just turn out to be a different kind of trap altogether...

I'm sorry, but that cover really reminds me of Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid. It's quite distracting to see so many similar elements. Anyway, going past that and on to the goodies. The first surprise is the dedication page, which reads: For my amazing friends at the National Book Store and MPH and the great readers they serve on the other side of the world.

Whoah! Our very own National Bookstore has been mentioned. I dimly recall that Peter Lerangis has visited the country via NBS, but I was not a fan back then so I didn't get my copy signed. Drat the luck. But it's really cute that he mentions his Eastern fans since we don't get much love or mentions from foreign authors.

Jack, Aly, Cass, and Marco are back! I have come to enjoy their rapport with each other, despite the worrying disappearance of Marco at the end of the first book. Lost in Babylon is actually peppered with hints of Marco's secret agenda, but I already suspected it early on (or maybe it's just my paranoid nature). Still, when Marco's change of mind was finally revealed, it still felt like a blow to me. I have come to view the four of them as a family. At the start, I thought he just truly believed that Karai are the bad guys, but when his great plan is finally revealed, I discover that his baser instinct - greed for power - is the true inducement for his switching towards the other side.

The dreams that Jack keeps having make me more convinced that he's truly descended from one of the two brothers. Of the four of them, he's the only one who has no real physical talent (brains, brawn, memory) and he's the only one who keeps getting dreams from the Mother Qalani and the two brothers, Karai and Massarym. Plus, my suspicion is aided by that bomb that Lerangis' drops on the readers by the end of the book, which I will not reveal because it's a game-changer!

Literary fiction is currently populated with YA books involving adventures around the world, but I think Lost in Babylon stands out in particular because it talks about an ancient wonder that is quite popular but not much explored in fiction. Discovering (or rediscovering) places around the world is one of the reasons why I love to read books, and reading about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon has spurred me on to read more about it. I can say I'm very excited to read the rest of the series because I want to read about the five remaining wonders, as stylized in fiction.

Peter Lerangis' has definitely improved with regards to visualization. Unlike in The Colossus Rises, I was able to picture in my mind's eye how the Hanging Gardens must have looked. What I felt lacking in Lost in Babylon is more focus on the two other characters, Aly and Cass. They felt like lackeys, and not the heroes I believe they are. I'm hoping that the next book/s will be narrated from either of the two's perspectives, since I believe that they can do so much more than what they are currently portraying.

My liking for the series has improved since the first book. Lost in Babylon has a lot of great elements that make it an exciting book - good characters who have potential to be great, atypical locations for the heroes' adventures, and a fluid writing style by Lerangis, which seems to be gaining stride with each book. Definitely looking forward to the next books in the Seven Wonders series!

Don't forget to read the e-novella Seven Wonders Journals. I've read the first, The Select, and it was very nicely done. It got me more excited for the series, since I read it prior to reading Lost in Babylon.

Have you read any of the books in the series? How do you like it so far? Are you pro-Karai or pro-Massa?