[[[Amulet Book Six: Escape from Lucien]]]
By Kazu Kibuishi
Scholastic Graphix, 214 pages. $12.99
We are six volumes into the fantasy series Amulet and it appears that as long as each book hits the best seller lists, Kazu Kibuishi will continue to pump these out on an annual basis. However, it is starting to fall into the trap of success: it’s spinning its wheels with no real end in sight. After keeping readers waiting, the sixth installment arrives and 200 pages later, leaves with little resolved and a cliffhanger.
Escape from Lucien opens up mid-story and one would think after six books, the publisher would include some front matter to set the stage, reminding its young readers what happened last year, who these people are, and what’s at stake. Instead, we rush headlong into action with factions at war, things flying fast, other things blowing up, and much discussion over prophecies and obligations.
Navin remains the focal point character although much time is given over to the supporting players, notably Max who takes Emily on a protracted flashback that reveals his secrets and sets the stage for more to come. The conflict ultimately remains stopping the Elf King but this book detours to Lucien where old threads are furthered and new ones introduced.
Kibuishi’s pleasing artwork and color remains strong and each book is a nice page-turner, packed with action, special effects, and large crowds running around. What remain slacking, though, are clearly defined rules for this reality. We have a wide assortment of humans, anthropomorphic creatures, robots, androids, elves, etc. but they appear more for visual variety than for understanding the races that make up this world. There are some racial tensions here and the rest is entirely ignored, robbing the works for richness and depth.
Amulet is all surface and very familiar territory. He gets credit for a book that didn’t once remind me of Star Wars so he’s getting more confident in his storytelling. Still there remain clichés and accustomed tropes without benefit of a creative spin on them.
The 10-12 year old readers this is aimed at won’t realize any of this, thinking it’s just exciting, but Kibuishi’s editors need to more strongly develop him as more than a flashy visual creator.