Atmosphere: 3 out of 5. Neither good nor bad, it simply is, in this book. From the beginning you can just tell that this story is going to be a clear black-and-white conflict, which does well because, while I may dislike such conflicts most of the time, the story is still accurately conveying its nature, which I can only think well of.
Characters: 3 out of 5. None of the characters are particularly bad, except maybe the villains, who currently seem to be two-dimensional "safe" bad guys that won't make us ask complicated questions about questions. I like Mr. Scientist Villager, for all that he appears, and there's another character that I'm fond of who I can't mention above the Spoiler Line because, well, spoilers.
Plot: 3 out of 5. I don't like how the revelations are artificially strung-out. "We'll tell you that later" or "Now is not the time for you to know" over and over again. It gets kind of grating. However, and I cannot stress this enough, there was no goshdarned love triangle madness. In fact, absolutely no badly-written romances shoehorned in solely to nab a few more readers, in any way whatsoever. This earns the book some points. The revelation of the villains' nature is also well-placed, being right about at the two-thirds point.
Writing Style: 3 out of 5. The whole "elyrni" bit in the beginning should be replaced with alcohol or something similar. It felt like namedropping for the sake of namedropping, the way that it was structured. As well, "As we all know?"-style infodumping is probably a thing to be avoided.
Worldbuilding: 1 out of 5. Unfortunately, I feel like there's a lot to be desired here. The names and words don't appear to share a common heritage, and many times seem better-suited for a Tolkienesque fantasy or, in other places, something Japanese. This culture of the village feels pretty Western for all that it's, you know, not supposed to be a bunch of White Folk. In general, it doesn't present me with something that I can believe in.
Details, details: [here there be spoilers]
Why does every hungry teen in unfamiliar circumstances inevitably reference back to some name brand product?
From my notes: "Akol's language ability explanation is BS or he's lying." Got it! Or at least that's what it appears to be, since it turns out that these people have been sending out their Sentinels for generations, which would imply that some knowledge of non-local languages would be had through non-magic means.
|And how could you leave out Hexxus?|
Now he's sad.
Speaking of which: It's freaking magic, no matter how much you say otherwise, Valley Village People, unless we get an actual explanation.
Tegan absolutely fails at probability estimates. When you can ping two pretty interesting coincidences between the prophecy and yourselves, and the natives have already demonstrated magic powers, you should probably go with the flow and assume that these people know what they're talking about. But then, she's a freaking teenager, not the Second Coming of Bayes.
This is... kind of like Fern Gully sans Hexxus. The villains are Total Bad Guys, Inc., which I can't say that I really like. I hope that we get shown more depth in the villains in future books.
Zombie water! Freaking zombie water! I do like that. Even if I'm slightly confused how the exact nature of the contaminating chemical is making it zombie water.
The revelation about the Sentries explains a lot of stuff that was really, really bugging me.