|Bloomsbury USA |
by Carrie Jones
I’ve been a fan of the Need series since book one when Jones took pixies out of obscurity and brought them to the YA audience. Thus, I was ecstatic to see book four of the series emerge after a long two-year wait. Zara is no different in this installment, soft-hearted, bull-headed, and intolerant of cruelty wherever it exists. Zara finds out the end of the world is eminent, and she is the one who will begin and end the apocalypse. She is an admirable, tough heroine. Unable to accept her role in the coming end, she and her entourage are forced to temporarily enlist new warriors in the fight against the evil pixies in Maine while they travel to Iceland to find the mythic "Hel," or Nordic underworld, and the secret to preventing the destruction of mankind.
Like other novels in the series, there is no shortage of butt-kicking action as Zara and her companions fight Frank and the evil pixies throughout the story. Jones isn’t afraid to sacrifice a human or two in the process either—which adds to the tension. The Norse myth of Hel in the story is very interesting, so different from the traditional Christian mythology of "Hell" that many readers in this country will find the narrative doubly interesting and the descriptions of Hel almost inviting. The keeper of Hel, also named "Hel" is perhaps one of the most interesting new additions to the series. Hel is a devil with a heart, and for some reason, she captures mine. I could see Jones developing a series of short stories based on Hel’s interactions with her "guests." But, I digress. What doesn’t really work in the novel is the changing relationship between Zara and Nick. Without revealing too much, Nick comes off as a major flake. And although the newly-developing relationship between Astley and Zara reveals that first loves (Nick) usually do not last forever, it is hard to make the shift to the new romantic duo—they just don’t sizzle. At times the novel lacks clarity (why does Issie’s mom keep her from going to Zara’s house after dark but let her travel to Iceland?), and it is difficult to suspend disbelief when the teens of the town start training. Despite these minor lapses, the finishing is satisfying even if it is not the best book of the four-book series.