I think coming in here expecting a level of storytelling on par with Airbender will lead you to ruin.
Rebel Genius is good, but it’s not Avatar good. And truly, it shouldn’t be. Avatar had two main leads (Bryke) and hundreds (if not more) people working to perfect it, not to mention the voice actors. This is a book. It stands alone, as it should, by its own merits.
Frankly, I’ve read better MG novels. I don’t read as many now, but I still have a few series that I follow, and in my opinion, they’re much stronger than this.
I do like the mythology and lore of this world. I love the idea of the geniuses and their connection to art in various forms. I would’ve loved to see a written-art genius included, though I’m not sure how DiMartino would make that work. It’s my niche, so it makes sense that I’d want to see it done.
I found his descriptions a bit tough to follow at times, especially as massive amounts of shapes were described. The artistry definitely helped in that sense, though.
On the characters, I think there is room for more. Just because we have a picture does not mean that description can slack. I wish I had seen more from all of our team. And as for the mercenaries, I almost wish there were only a few. To have all twelve or however many there were introduced in rapid fire succession was a waste. I only could tell you about a handful, despite each one having a unique name and skill-set. I also wish we learned more about our antagonists. They seem to exist only to be evil in trying to take over the world, or rule the world. I’d love more.
One of my most picky criticisms centers around the rather straight forward path. The maps, although detailed, only really include places that directly appeared in plot. The Cave, the land of the dead, the singing cave, the castle; all of these were “stops” along the way. And while there were a few forests and land-masses named, but not mentioned, everything that had a detailed drawing, was visited. It makes it seem to me like a very narrow-minded path. Where are the other cities? One city and a castle to the whole nation?
I do have high hopes for the sequels. I hope we see more of the nation, and more of the world itself. I know we will see more of the magic-system, and I do anticipate that. But overall, it seemed a little like DiMartino was finding his literary roots with this. Heres hoping that he stretches a bit and comes into book two with a little more oomph.
I give this start three smudged-drawings, out of five.
As of December 27th, I am jumping into a new middle-grade series, Rebel Genius, authored by one of the great minds behind Avatar: The Last Airbender. I’m coming into it largely unaware. I know it has something to do with magic, and art, but little else.
Photo credit: Pixabay user: StockSnap