Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
Rating: 2.75 out of 5
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I truly wish I could give it a better one, but I just had too many issues with it to rate it higher.
Overall, the whole thing has the impression of being a "rough draft." For instance, in the beginning, the main character Alex is in gym class, and just a page or two after talking about gym uniforms, she says something about "brushing off her jeans." Umm...she's supposed to be wearing gym shorts?! This is just one example of the inconsistency that is spread throughout the book, which is very annoying and/or confusing to read. At the end, Madra scratches out the Devourer's eyes, and then in a page or two, the Devourer looks at Alex with all her family standing next to her. Looks with what?! The reader doesn't just forget someone's eyes being scratched out!
There are nuggets of potential here and there, and the premise is super-interesting. I've never read anything dealing with Latin American folklore, and I would love to learn more true-to-life details since it seemed that most of the elements of the book were completely fictional.
What I liked:
* The quest plot through a unique magical land.
* The creative variety of magical beings with ambiguous intentions. The Meadowkins and avianas are developed pretty well.
* The idea of having a love triangle involving two girls and a guy.
* Rishi has some good one-liners.
* Character growth in Alex relative to embracing her power.
What I didn't like:
* The characters simply aren't fleshed out enough. Alex simply isn't fleshed out enough as a character and is a bit too bland to want to root strongly for her. Because of this, the love triangle aspect can't be developed enough either. Alex can clearly see that Rishi obviously has a crush on her, yet there is no processing of this by Alex AT ALL until the very end when she decides she might have feelings too. (I mean, Rishi jumps into a freaking PORTAL TO ANOTHER WORLD for her and Alex hardly pauses to consider that!) Even so, their chemistry still feels really platonic, at least on Alex's side, like she's confusing the love of a true friendship with something else. I think her potential relationship with Nova is more interesting and complex. Nova has the most complexity of the three, but even he could be stronger. Beyond her sarcasm and her crush on Alex, there is no character development at all for Rishi.
* Random nicknames. Why does Nova start calling Alex Ladybird? Why does Alex refer to Rishi as her magpie? No clue.
* Super bland and/or cheesy dialogue. When faced with the supreme villain who has Rishi ensnared, Alex comes up with the menacing "Let her go!" No wonder the Devourer doesn't taker her seriously. Later, Nova, who is supposed to be the street-smart tough boy, responds to Alex with "As you wish." When is the last time you heard a teenage boy say "as you wish"?
I'm glad I'm done reading this book. It frustrated the heck out of me because it was just such wasted potential.
I actually think this would have made a great middle grade book with better editing, more fleshing out of the characters, and elimination of the love triangle element.
Finally, I understand I had an e-ARC, but there were more typographical errors in this text than I've ever seen in any book including but not limited to improper use of apostrophes, sentence fragments, and missing words. Seriously, was there no editor at all? I did not deduct any stars specifically for this issue since it was not the final published copy, but it really drove me nuts. There is no way this edition should have made it into any reader's hands without some major proofreading.