Abarat: Absolute Midnight (Book Three) Hardcover – Sep 27 2011
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Praise for ABARAT III: Absolute Midnight illustrated hardback edition: "True moments of terror vie for attention with the flora and fauna of Abarat ... All in all, fans will revel" - Kirkus Book Reviews "Readers will agree with Candy: 'So much still to do: to explore, to solve, to feel.'" - Booklist Praise for ABARAT I illustrated hardback edition: "ABARAT is more than just a new and major contender. It is (like his earlier book, THE THIEF OF ALWAYS) full of a level of beautiful terror that children are still just able to bear" Independent "Always creating and always pushing into the furthest reaches of the human mind, he is an artist in every sense of the word. He is the great imaginer of our time" Quentin Tarantino --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
“I know that many of you here have waited years for this Hour,” Mater Motley said, using that voice that, though it was barely conversational in volume, was somehow heard everywhere. “The waiting is over. Tomorrow there will be no dawn. Only midnight, absolute and eternal.”
And so begins a new chapter in the epic story of sixteen-year-old Candy Quackenbush and her journeys through the world of the Abarat, where every hour is an island in one eternal day, and nothing is as it seems.
Candy travels through the Abarat from island to island and across the sea with an unlikely band of friends: the escaped prisoner Malingo the Geshrat, the quarrelsome John Brothers, who all share the same body but never the same opinion, and the many other colorful characters they meet along the way.
The problem is that trouble finds Candy wherever she goes. And soon she discovers a secret plot, masterminded by the diabolical Mater Motley, who is obsessed with becoming Empress of the Islands. Her method is simple. She will darken the skies, putting out the suns, moons, and stars. She will bring absolute midnight.See all Product Description
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I actually bought "Absolute Midnight" the day it came out, but could not bring myself to start reading until yesterday. Seven years' anticipation was brought to fruition in about sixteen hours of reading. I was not disappointed.
"Absolute Midnight" is fantastic.
Unlike the second book, I don't think you can delve straight into "Absolute Midnight" without reading the other books. It is a fully contained story, but it is firmly planted in the Abarat. There are no explanations of phenomena or mysteries addressed in the first two and very little backstory. So please, please, please read at least the second book before picking up this one.
The story basically picks up exactly where "Days of Magic, Nights of War" left off. The islands are on the verge of the greatest war the archipelago has ever seen. The consequences are dire: if the forces of darkness win, midnight will eclipse the Abarat forever. Candy and her friends (although "friends" seems too light a word for the relationship she has with Malingo and Co.)aren't just up against Mater Motley. Monsters hidden in the caves of the islands and depths of the ocean are eagerly awaiting the darkness, and monsters beyond time and dimension as the Abarat knows it are waiting to destroy the islands.
"Absolute Midnight", while keeping the lyrical wonder that characterizes the series, is almost shockingly dark. Destroyers beyond comprehension, the insane but almost paradoxically calculating Mater Motley, stitchling armies displaying ominous levels of intelligence not seen before, corrupt councils, and more--Candy's allies have either turned their backs, or been silenced. Even Princess Boa, supposedly the embodiment of all things good and pure, is more selfish and cruel than Christopher Carrion ever was.
Character depth was pretty astounding. The Carrion family in particular got a great treatment, continuing and deepening the development brought up in book two. I've rarely felt so badly for a character as I did for Carrion.
Most of the people in the book were treated similarly. Malingo has believably developed courage and confidence, as another example, and Candy has grown into herself admirably in the rather welcome absence of Boa.
There were a few instances involving other characters where I felt something was done outof character, or something was unrealistic in relation to a character's past behavior. There was also one deus ex machina moment that sat a little oddly, but in the end I was so grateful things turned out that way that I didn't think too much about it. One thing that did kind of strike me as not entirely believable was the speed and intensity of Candy and Gazza's relationship. I thought it was great, don't get me wrong, but I wish it had been developed with the same depth as the other relationships and characters.
My only complaint was that I was seriously hoping to get more about Letheo. As weak and flawed as he is, he is a fascinating character with potential to be either great, or terrible.
The book itself is gorgeous. Nearly 600 pages, this edition is large, glossy, and full of incredible artwork.
Overall, the story was definitely worth waiting for. I was terrified I'd be disappointed, but I wasn't. I was enthralled. Abarat keeps getting better and better. It hold YA fiction--or any fiction, for that matter-- to a magnificent standard that's been mostly lost. If you read it, you will not regret it.
Given the cliffhanger, though, let's all hope we don't have another seven years to wait =)
The story itself, however, is fantastic. Really quite amazing. I can't wait for the fourth book, Barker, it seems, is gearing up to write his best work and I think he knows it too..
To be frank, it feels like Mr. Barker has written down a fever dream rather than a novel. The plot lines were oddly disjointed from each other, and any sense of character development is almost completely gone. Perhaps Mr. Barker had too long to think about where he wanted to take the story? It doesn't fit in with the previous two books. The story took a number of wild turns without really developing them along the way.
I'm very disappointed with Absolute Midnight, and I can only hope that I won't have to wait 7 more years if the next book is going to be like this one. I'd wait 14 more years to get something more like the first two.
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