Laurie Graves’ second novel in The Great Library series, Library Lost, came out in time for a copy to be under our Christmas tree, seven months ago. I have had it in my reading queue, but various events, including packing up our library, in anticipating of more renovations, took precedence. I have caught up on some projects, and had a couple of weekends on the road recently, which gave me time to bring that along for drive-time reading. I even passed on some naps in order to finish a few more chapters. That might be endorsement enough.
Without giving away too many spoiler comments, Library Lost picks up the story of Maya and the books which allow her (and others) to travel across space and time. The opening chapters jumps right in about three hours after the last books ended for Maya. Not much rest time there. On the other hand, the teenager, Andy, who returned to his own time period has lived about 30 years, is married and has a daughter (ain’t saying more). And, on the planet of Ilyria and the province of Craxton about six years have passed under the beneficent rule of Duke Owen. Yeah, those evil folks are lurking in the shadows and will get ugly pretty quickly.
I will not give much else away, except to say that we meet several new characters, learn more details about those whom we have been reading about, and follow quite a few twists through city streets and forest pathways. Keep an eye out for the grand mothers who will set you straight, or maybe deck you for being bad (ain’t saying more). Chapter 27 even mentions a purple turtle (but that’s Cynthia’s story to explore).
The theme that Ms. Graves builds her story is the idea that books bring knowledge, some of which may be useful and some destructive. But, books also tell only part of the story, leaving some details for us to deduce and discover as needed. Furthermore, books raise questions, and questions may lead to confusion or doubt.
All literature is written under the influence of specific time periods. A close reading can give clues about what was on the author’s mind to include in the narrative. Plutarch wrote his “Lives”, illustrating leadership skills and styles of Greek and Roman rulers, during the degeneration of the Roman Empire and the rise of a fanatical sect of Jewish people were spreading a new religions throughout that Empire. His lives provide clues to successful leadership and caution about how leaders fail. Shakespeare wrote his plays during the Tudor dynasty. He tweaked history often to justify the reign of Queen Elizabeth and later King James (and his continued favor in the court). Hemingway wrote his novels of existential triumph and tragedy during the turmoil of the world at war(s). Mr. Graves writes during the rise of populist autocrats in the USA, as well as other nations (Russia, the Phillipines, Brazil, etc). Let’s just say that you can find a bit of commentary on our present state of affairs if you wish (ain’t saying more).
On a final note, while I do not read much of the genre of youth fiction, I see a similarity to one of the saga’s of my youth. The structure of her first novel, Maya and the Book of Everything, is similar to George Lucas’ first Star’s Wars movie (episode IV, New Hope), in which a boy learns ancient skills in order to bring justice to the universe. Library Lost is akin to the next film (episode V, The Empire Strikes Back). As I passed page 300, I knew that the next 13 pages would not wrap up this story neatly or nicely. I felt like Luke Skywalker ,dangling from an antenna underneath a star-ship, with one hand severed and my guts kicked by learning that Darth Vadar was my father (ain’t saying more).
By Ms. Graves’ time line for the third novel to be published in 2020, I will not have to wait as long at it took Lucas to come out with is sequels…