Tuesday 13 April 2010

The Power by L J Smith

The Power is the third and final book in The Secret Circle trilogy by L J Smith. In this story, the Circle are shattered by Faye's revelations at a time when they need to be at their strongest. Black John is back, and Cassie is horrified when it is revealed why she feels such a strong connection with him. He has returned to claim the Master Tools and become the leader of the coven of twelve that he had such a hand in creating - which means that one member of the Circle must die...

I think that L J Smith writes perfect teenage escapist fiction - as long as you suspend your disbelief and don't look for the plot holes. Although the first two books in the trilogy (The Initiation and The Captive) are pretty strong and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them, this third one did not captivate me in the same way.

My main problem was the sudden switch in focus between Nick and Adam, the two men that Cassie is attracted to. Because Adam is with Diana, and forbidden to Cassie, she looks to Nick for a relationship - and that relationship is written in a very sweet manner. Nick becomes a character that I really enjoyed reading about - the gradual unthawing of his cold manner and the way he becomes so protective of Cassie are extremely well-written. So it was a disappointment to discover the way that L J Smith chose to resolve the situation, and this coloured my reading experience.

I also didn't feel that there was enough book for the plot development that L J Smith added concerning the change in attitudes of the 'outsider' school children, and then the switch to something approaching truce. It all rattled through at a breakneck pace, which felt a little too fast. In the first two books the pace was balanced well with the plot development and the strong characterisations, but here it felt like Smith was trying to pack in too much.

As with The Initiation and The Power, I did love the way Smith wrote these characters. Over the course of all three books she has managed effectively to juggle twelve personalities, depicting their different attitudes, abilities and emotions with rare skill. There was never a moment when a name was mentioned and I thought 'Who is this one again?'

I read this trilogy with great nostalgia and fondness for characters that I first discovered in my teens, and I was pleasantly surprised to realise that the books stand up to both adult eyes and a second read. They give a lesson to any YA authors who wish to write strong female characters and genuinely gorgeous male characters. Recommended as a trilogy, despite the fact that the third book is not as strong.

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