Vermonia series by Yoyo.
Publisher: Candlwick Press
Reason for Reading: Book #3 is a Cybils '10 nominee and as a panelist for Graphic Novels this is required reading for me. Whenever we get a series volume nominated that I haven't read the previous ones, I like to go back and read them so I can get a feel for the series as a whole. This is only if we are talking about the first 4 or less.
286. #1. Quest for the Silver Tiger. 2009. 139 pgs. Many years ago two brothers fought against each other and Uro won ending Queen Frasinella's reign. She transformed four of her great warriors into animal spirits and sent them to the Turtle Kingdom where each was immediately tricked into imprisonment. Now many, many years later 4 children from earth are summoned as the counterparts to these animal spirits and it is up to them to save the Blue Star System. As the animal spirits are unleashed their powers will combine and become one with each child.
The story caught me up pretty quickly. Starting with a group of feisty skateboarding kids (two boys, two girls), the fantasy aspect starts quite quickly and they are whisked away to learn there prophetic future. The story has Native American influences; the planet they land on has a princess and warriors dressed in Native American garb, they are called the Potonawi. The camp is ruled by the Princess's grandmother who is a Magician of the 32nd line of heritage who can talk to many spirits and see both the past and the future. The story's tension begins right away as one of the four friends is kidnapped by Uro in a ploy to trap the others and the book ends on a cliffhanger as one of the bad guys, Sassella, a girl who everything she touches turns to stone comes upon our heroes leaving their fate unknown as we anxiously wait to read book 2. I also love the art. It is detailed, the fantasy creatures are unique and the manga style is for the most part realistic, there is only a small amount of the over-exaggerated expressions and all the boys look like boys. Just the way I like my manga! 4/5
287. #2. Call of the Winged Panther. 207 pgs. Feb. 23 2010. And we start right off in the middle of the action where book one closed quickly grabbing us and never letting go until the end. We get to know the characters better as we spend more time with them. Princess Rainbow tells her background story which adds a reveal which is most certainly going to be a plot point somewhere down the line. I already have a feeling I know what it means. This time the three friends, along with Rainbow and a guide, journey off to the next village which is inhabited by an elf like race. We are also told what life was like before Uro took over and the important ability of song the inhabitants had of communicating with each other. There are battles against bad guys and the addition of Doug's powers of the Silver Tiger are enormous indeed. This time around Jim must search for his warrior and animal spirit that he will share, the winged panther. I'm loving this story, something totally different for me plotwise, as we move forward with the plot, time is also taken to reveal the background. I haven't picked a favourite character yet, though I have certainly picked the one I don't like, Jim is quite the whiner. As the book started with a character in peril, the book ends with the same character in peril once more leaving us with another cliffhanger anxiously waiting to read book 3. 4/5
288. #3. Release of the Red Phoenix. 207 pgs. Aug. 24, 2010. By volume three the story is moving along at full force now. We've met all the members of Uro's council and have the full story of what the "bad guys" are up to and the kind of wicked depths they will go to for the sake of getting what they want. All four of the teens by this point known as the Blue Star Warriors have received their warrior animal spirits and have pretty cool powers along with some awesome art when the two morph together for battles. They visit another village this time of animal-type beings as they search for the Red Phoenix spirit. I'm really into this series. The plotline becomes more complicated as we have several storylines and some friendships and romances developing as well. The dark side is quite dark and there are hints at elements not being quite what they appear to be. I've finally decided that Naomi is my favourite of the teen warriors as she is a compassionate person who will not kill for the sake of killing and who will stand up to anyone for her friends, even if it is not always wise. For once the book doesn't end with a cliffhanger but on a valiant note as the three warriors are gathered together and sent out on a new mission now that they have released the animal spirits, but still they are looking to free their fourth member from the clutches of Uro. Book 4 was published last month (Nov. '10) and I'm eager to continue on with this exciting fantasy series. 5/5