Today I am here with a review of The Green Ember by S. D. Smith. I have had this book near the top of my TBR for a while and was excited to finally read it.
I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed by this one. I began it highly anticipating the clever story and great read aloud genre especially after such strong reviews from others like Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival. But this just wasn’t my favorite.
- I can appreciate why this is a great read aloud. I think the characters and pretty simple story line would be really fun for young readers (especially boys ages 8-12). For me, it wasn’t as engaging as I anticipated. But again, that is partially because I’m not in the target audience.
- I didn’t connect with the rabbits as main characters. I just couldn’t really get behind this detail. I just didn’t understand why rabbits. Why not people fighting other people? I guess it’s a fun, unique twist on a classic good vs. evil story but it didn’t really work for me.
According to Goodreads, “My place beside you, my blood for yours. Till the Green Ember rises, or the end of the world.
Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.
Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.
Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?”
I enjoyed the legends and stories of the Great Wood. This felt a lot like the mythic way J. R. R. Tolkien creates his world and its history. Smith creates a fun history for the Great Wood that reminds me a bit of a simplified history of Middle Earth–same sort of mythic stories that connect the inhabitants of the land and unite them against evil foes. I have seen since finishing this story that Smith has several other books both following Pickett and Heather but also some that detail some of these myths in more detail. I love the way he creates so much for this world.
There are a lot of exciting, fast-paced action scenes in this story that are really fun to read. The initial fight scene between Heather/Pickett/Smalls and the wolves is surprising and clever. So much action! So intense! Such a fun adventure! The book lost some of it’s clever spark in the middle. In fact, the middle of the book was boring for me. Not a lot of action. Not a lot of answers. I was dying for news of Heather and Pickett’s family and finally we get some at the end! The ending also has some crazy action. I think the story ends with an engaging, exciting action sequence with a fantastic twist that I didn’t see coming for very far in advance. I like that we finally have something that all the rabbits are working for and there is a clear direction for the next book.
However, I had a hard time connecting with the main characters and felt that most characters were underdeveloped. Heather and Pickett were not my favorite protagonists. I just didn’t connect with either of them very much. This may be because I am outside the target audience (again, I’d categorize this as a solid middle grade fantasy novel). But I was mostly annoyed at them for either being so sullen or for suddenly being very proactive. And then I wanted to know a lot more about the other characters’ backgrounds. What has Uncle Wilfred been doing for all these years? Where did Emma come from? What is the history of the cloud mountain people? Perhaps these are elaborated on in later books. The character highlight for me was Smalls. I think he was my favorite character and I really enjoyed the twists that give us more knowledge of his background.
Right now, I do want to finish the series. But it’s not at the top of my list. Again, I can appreciate that this would be a fun read aloud. So perhaps I’ll return to it with my kids when they’re a bit older.
What series have underwhelmed you?
Any books that didn’t live up to your hype?