March 27, 2014

Review: The Shibboleth

The Twelve-Fingered Boy Book two of Incarcerado trilogy
By John Hornor Jacobs
Available now from Carolrhoda Lab (Lerner)
Review copy
Read my review of The Twelve-Fingered Boy

When I read THE TWELVE-FINGERED BOY, I wasn't quite sure how to take the ending.  In fact, in my review I said:
I'm not enamored with the ending of THE TWELVE-FINGERED BOY.  While Shreve and Jack to manage to accomplish something important, because the ending made the entire novel seem somewhat pointless.  I'm certainly curious about what will happen next, and at least next time I'll know that the end isn't really the end.   
Now, having read THE SHIBBOLETH, I am very glad I returned to the series.  Shreve is pretty beat down by the events of the first book, and he's lost his power on the inside.  At the same time, he's gained a more visceral power - he can go into people's heads, see their memories, puppet them.  Even though Shreve tends to me more of a good guy than a bad guy, it's a power that's easy to abuse when you're locked up with nothing to do except get bullied by the guards and other inmates.

But Shreve can't stay in juvenile detention forever.  Mr. Quincrux is trying to recruit him now.  And something is preventing something people from sleeping, and everyone is getting edgy.  THE SHIBBOLETH deepens the mythology of the series and gives Shreve a chance to define himself, without Jack, and with his new abilities.  It's exciting and scary.

Some bits of THE SHIBBOLETH feel a little like a retread of THE TWELVE-FINGERED BOY.  It starts in juvie, then there's a cross-country trip . . . but at the same time, things aren't the same at all.  The Shreve and Jack in THE SHIBBOLETH aren't the boys they used to be.  And it isn't certain whether that's a good thing or a bad thing yet.

I love how THE SHIBBOLETH has clear antagonists, but the most interesting one is Shreve himself.  He could grow up to be a great man, or he could grow up to be another Mr. Quincrux.  I'm eager for the third book, for both the final confrontation and the conclusion of Shreve's coming of age.  This unique series is truly just waiting to be discovered by all sorts of readers, particularly fans of the X-Men and Darren Shan.

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