A Unpredictable Place for the Apocalypse
I am always looking for books that have a different take on what a post apocalyptic Earth would be apart from the typical war, disease, environment and now the very popular zombie apocalypse. The most creative stories I find are in children books of all places. The Hungry City Chronicle books, while becoming less readable after the first book, are the most imaginative ones I have read thus far. That is what led me wanting to read The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series as I first heard that these stories might have a post apocalyptic angle to them from Megaton's blog. The idea of a story centered around animals after mankind's demise isn't original, Andre Norton's Breed to Come has that type of setting (it is on my list to read), but I was interested in seeing just what apocalyptic elements it had.
After finding the first book at a used book sale and reading it I would say if you are looking for a book about a burnt Earth with a desperate struggle to survive then skip over these books. In fact no humans are present in the first book and it is my understanding the rest of the books only mentions humans as 'The Others.' From the first book the apocalyptic references are only casually stated such as the existence of a barn owls not living in barns anymore, a library, 'the great wars' and Psalms. I can only assume that humans have all died out leaving only sentient animals in their place. Instead of humans the books center around the adventures of the barn owl Soren and his friends, really all the animals seem to be sentient as well as being very human in how they act and talk but that isn't very surprising for a kid's book.
Now maybe it is being raised on Goosebumps but the only thing that really seems kiddish in this first book is the simplicity of the writing and the depth of the concept. While reading The Capture I was surprised on the amount of deaths, while the body count was piling up I felt like I was reading a Deathlands book. In the around 250 pages of this book there are, if I recall correctly, six deaths, two of which are cannibalism (would it be considered cannibalism between owl species?). The author, Kathryn Lasky, also has a thing for owlisms for the most part I really like this as it gives them a distinction from not being human as you may forget while reading this. The one owlism that really gets old is saying 'pellet' instead of 'shit,' as in 'I don't give a pellet.' You will groan many times in this book over the use of the word pellet, so much so I think she has a fetish for it.
As for the story it is a basic good verse evil plot. Soren is captured, as you might have guessed from the title, and taken to a, might say religious, compound where the leaders have a plot to take over owldom. Of course there is a legendary good that they believe will triumph over them. In the end of the first book they escape, it is a kid's book after all, and head off for the place the legend speaks of. Like I mentioned the writing is simplistic but the story also has the problem of being choppy which I blame this on being a kid's book and that the writer has to limit the length.
If you are a collector and find this book for fifty cents as I did by all means add it to your collection, as well as the others which I plan to get, otherwise I suggest going for something of a higher reading level and more depth.
Recommendation: Take a pass on these
Scorch level: 0
Soren is born in the forest of Tyto, a tranquil kingdom where the Barn Owls dwell. But evil lurks in the owl world, evil that threatens to shatter Tyto's peace and change the course of Soren's life forever.
Soren is captured and taken to a dark and forbidding canyon. It's called an orphanage, but Soren believes it's something far worse. He and his friend Gylfie know that the only way out is up. To escape, they will need to do something they have never done before—fly.
And so begins a magical journey. Along the way, Soren and Gylfie meet twilight and Digger. The four owls band together to seek the truth and protect the owl world from unimaginable danger.
The New York Times Bestselling Series
"With all the right elements—a hero that's destined for greatness and the struggle between light and darkness—Soren's tale is suspenseful and riveting." —SLJ
Now a major motion picture!