There was a big to-do around the book blogosphere when the first book in this series, A Corner of White, came out last year. They were giving away the book with a Moleskine journal and a mug in matching colors, with a different color combination on each blog doing the giveaway. I’m not quite sure why this captivated me so much – it’s not like I need more journals or mugs – but I did read the book, even though I didn’t win any of the giveaways.
A year later, I wondered, did I like the book so much because of the giveaways, or was it really so good? And after reading book two, with a lot more remove from that hype, I have to say, the books really are that good. But maybe don’t read this review if you haven’t read the first book, because spoilers are inevitable.
The Cracks in the Kingdom. The Colors of Madeleine Book 2. by Jaclyn Moriary. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2014.
At the end of the first book, our hero in the Kingdom of Cello, Elliott, had just been invited to be part of the Royal Youth Alliance. Its purpose was not to united the youth from different areas of the kingdom in the face of increasing factions and Color Attacks, but for the teens involved to help Princess Ko track down the rest of the Royal Family, all of whom are missing. She thinks that they have all fallen or been sent through cracks in the Kingdom into our world. We know from the introduction that they are scattered all over our world, and that none of them remembers their life in Cello. All of the teens she’s chosen have special skills to bring to this hunt. Keira from Jagged Edge can make new technology to help, Samuel from Old Quainte can research the history of contact between the worlds, and Princess Ko’s friend Sergio the stable boy must be there for some reason. Elliott, of course, has his highly forbidden letter-writing relationship with Madeleine, back in our world, but still cares more about finding his father than the royal family. Madeleine herself, having dealt with a lot of issues in the last book, is trying with some difficulty to establish some kind of normal with her new knowledge of the world. And though I very much liked that in the first book, Elliott and Madeleine had a strictly platonic relationship, I was very excited here when they started moving towards romance.
As with the previous book, there are a lot of different kinds of elements mixed up here. There are full casts of characters in both worlds, and philosophy, science, and people from history all play important roles both in the plot and character development. Even though there’s a lot going on, the character growth for both Madeleine and Elliott is essential to the puzzles being solved. All of this put together made a heady mix that I just couldn’t put down. It feels like there’s enough weirdness to it that it’s a book that will either not work for people or, like me, work really, really well. Though there’s nothing really inappropriate for younger kids, the complexity and themes make me feel that it’s best for teens and up. This ended with some problems solved and a whole lot more created – and I’m very much looking forward to the next book!