Top positive review
Fun and Action-Packed
Reviewed in the United States on April 1, 2014
These Spirit Animals books get better and better! This third installment was chock full of exciting action sequences and palpable danger. We also see a lot more character development, especially as Meilin struggles to understand her place with the Greencloaks. I enjoyed seeing her relationship with Jhi, her spirit animal panda, strengthen. After two books of wanting to throttle Meilin, it was a nice change of pace for her to finally get real.
In this third book of the multi-author Spirit Animals series, the Conquerers are devouring whole cities in their quest to disrupt and control the bond between animals and humans. Concerned for her homeland, Meilin has left the others to find her father and fight the enemy. But Meilin soon finds that she's not the only one sneaking into the country.
The story takes place largely in the country of Zhong, a pseudo Asia. Nix and Williams fill the book's locations with rich details. Over the course of Blood Ties we visit a massive bamboo maze, a swamp teeming with enraged crocodiles, and a lake surrounded by high cliffs. This is the first of the Spirit Animals books that really showed me the world of Erdas.
I was also glad to see a stronger focus on the overall problem of the series, the Devourer's quest to conquer Erdas. Those enormous crazy-eyed crocodiles were terrifying!
In my review of Book 2, I had to write a qualification about how multi-author series often water down the elements that make an author's writing style unique. However, that was not true in Blood Ties. I love Garth Nix's other books, such as Shade's Children and Sabriel, for his marvelous world-building. He and Williams pulled off a great world in this book too. Cheers!
Overall, my students and I really love these books and this one is the best so far. Some of my fifth graders have expressed concern that the series is starting to get a bit repetitive. The first 3 are unique enough to be fun reads, but there is some formulaic writing emerging. It hasn't been annoying yet since the authors have mixed it up, but it I agree with my students that it will be a challenge to keep this series fresh.