Review: The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Mystery
Publisher: Harper Collins
Expected Publication: April 22, 2014
In this riveting fantasy adventure, thirteen-year-old Jax Aubrey discovers a secret eighth day with roots tracing back to Arthurian legend. Fans of Percy Jackson will devour this first book in a new series that combines exciting magic and pulse-pounding suspense.
When Jax wakes up to a world without any people in it, he assumes it's the zombie apocalypse. But when he runs into his eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he learns that he's really in the eighth day—an extra day sandwiched between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people—like Jax and Riley—are Transitioners, able to live in all eight days, while others, including Evangeline, the elusive teenage girl who's been hiding in the house next door, exist only on this special day.
And there's a reason Evangeline's hiding. She is a descendant of the powerful wizard Merlin, and there is a group of people who wish to use her in order to destroy the normal seven-day world and all who live in it. Torn between protecting his new friend and saving the entire human race from complete destruction, Jax is faced with an impossible choice. Even with an eighth day, time is running out.
The Eighth Day follows the story of a young orphan named Jax who one day learns that the Arthurian legends are true and he just happens to be a descendant of one of the Knights of the Round Table.
What intrigued me about The Eighth Day was the combination of Arthurian Legends mixed with a Modern Day setting. I haven't read anything quite like this in awhile so was really excited when I was able to read it early. However, as with many things in life the devil is in the details and let me tell you this one had a lot. Which brings me to problem number one with The Eighth Day,Information Overload.
Woah boy, I love when an Author really tries to set the plot by describing in detail the history of the characters and places set within the world but in my opinion this book had too much going on.Now normally I don't mind being fed facts throughout the story but coupled with the history of all the characters, lineages being established, and the magical aspect to the book I found it to be all too much. A Glossary in the back with charts detailing characters relationships and history would help so much. Also, The Author could've easily solved some of these problems by having the story start in the past with one of those "Long Ago in a Time Far Away..." type intros before jumping to Jax and the present day.
Another Issue I had with the story was Jax. I don't know if it was the age gap or his personality but I had trouble connecting with him. I understand he has issues stemming from being an Orphan but his inability to share the simplest bits of information with people was so frustrating. In fact, his failure to acknowledge things directly caused not only a Kidnapping, Bank Robbery, A house burning down and Oh yeah, a girl almost dying. Yet, his actions by books end are just chucked aside like no big deal, we forgive you blah,blah,blah. On the flip side nobody sharing information with Jax was a problem as well so really everyone is to blame for the events in The Eighth Day.
Lastly, I didn't really understand the purpose of Grunsday besides it being kind of cool. I'm sure it was mentioned but I really don't remember what exactly was said (See back to problem #1). Instead Grunsday felt like a plot device just to have Jax interact with Evangeline. Don't get me wrong Evangeline and her Family existing only within this one day are neat but nothing else really happens in Grunsday at least to make it seem an important enough piece of the plot to begin with. Now if the town turned into a Diagon Alley of sorts during Grunsday where all the descendants met up, shopped and mingled that would've been way cooler and given some point to the day existing. At least in my opinion.
Now even though I had my fair share of issues with The Eighth Day, I still found many things really well done.
First off, I really liked Evangeline and Riley. Not only are they more mature than Jax but they both had really interesting Family histories that I can't wait to hear more about as the series progresses. Plus being adults they were allowed to behave more maturely and I found myself craving those scenes since the majority of the book is really meant for younger eyes. Not bad for a kid reading the book but for an Adult the censoring of the characters keeping the book firmly in MG territory is noticeable. At least it was for me.
Secondly, I liked the Magical aspect of the story. It's clear to me that we've only just scraped the surface of it in The Eighth Day and so I really look forward to seeing more magical mayhem in the next book. I'm especially curious to see how much power Jax has as opposed to say Evangeline or Riley.
Lastly, I really liked the sense of adventure written into the story. Being swept away to far off places, rescuing damsels in distress, fighting bad guys and winning against unsurmountable odds, who doesn't like that? I know I do.
The Eighth Day might not have been everything I was looking for but in the end it was still an enjoyable enough read to make me want to return to the world and its characters. Would I recommend The Eighth Day? Yes, like I mentioned above it wasn't a bad book just one that needed to be better in its execution. If you enjoyed Eragorn by Christopher Paolini or Sneak by Evan Angler you'll probably highly enjoy this. With that being said, I'll be rating The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni ★★★.
*Copy reviewed provided by Edelweiss. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way for providing them.
About the Author
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The Caged Graves is a Junior Library Guild Selection, and We Hear the Dead was the inspiration for a 10 minute short film, The Spirit Game, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. http://vimeo.com/64738099
In her spare time, Dianne is prone to hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.