Yelena's recent 'outing' as a magic user, has made her outcast from Ixia. Now she returns to Sitia, the country she was born in but taken from as a young child. Yelena rediscovers her lost family and culture, and then goes on to train with the master magicians, to learn to control and develop her new-found magic abilities. But it's not an easy change for Yelena, and many people openly reject her, including her brother, and the would-be king of Ixia, Cahil. And then of course Yelena cannot help but become involved in the search for a psychotic magician who has been randomly abducting, abusing and murdering young children.
I felt that Magic Study
was a bit of a let down from the previous novel. The book could have had a lot going for it, the prospect of returning to Yelena's magical country of birth was quite an exciting one, and at first things were fairly interesting, but the story began to fall flat soon enough.
Snyder has not created a single interesting 'bad guy' character in this. Everyone that is against Yelena is obviously and openly so, shouting their opinions out in public. And none of them display enough cleverness to be a challenge.
Yelena begins to display a recklessness and insensitivity that I truly would not have expected from her character. She continuously jumps into dangerous situations on her own, and to use her magic without any training or knowledge of the consequences, even to the risk of innocent people's lives. She herself talks about how forcing knowledge out of another persons mind with magic is akin to rape, and she should know, but she continously uses her magic on other people, including mind-reading, without consent. As do the other magic users, who you would believe are the 'good guys' and have enough experience to know better too.
The style of the book is still firmly young-adult, like the last one. But I was shocked that there is even more incidence of adult themes than the last one, specifically rape. I am not going to say that rape shouldn't be mentioned in a YA book, but I think if you're going to use it, there should be some sensitivity in dealing with it. But here rape is just continuously thrown about, perhaps just for sensationalism on the writers behalf.. but I really don't think that's right, especially in a book for younger readers.
Another big disappointment was the relationship between Yelena and Valek. In the previous novel the slow build of their relationship was one of the best aspects. Their relationship was still new when this novel started, it could have made things quite interesting, as Yelena was forced to leave Valek just as they had truly realised their feelings for eachother. But suddenly in this book, it's as if they're an old married couple, Valek is almost wildly out of character, doing nothing but turning up conveniently to hop into bed with Yelena and then do her bidding, repeatedly. Very disappointing in that respect.
It's a shame as this book could have been better, and now it's putting me off YA-fantasy as a whole, and I'm not sure whether to read the 3rd book or not, no great loss since I bought them all 2nd hand (as I do most of my books when I can), but still... disappointed.See my other reviews of the Study trilogy:
← #1 Poison Study
| #3 Fire Study