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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Book Review: Valley of Time by Jeremy Holden

Recently, I shared my review of the first in the Mal Thomas series – Sea of Doubt. Today I bring you my thoughts on the sequel, Valley of Time, in which our fearless hero finds himself confronted by UFOs, time travel, and one man’s quest to deal with his past… It may not sound as dramatic as the Second Coming, but I assure you, once again there is more here than meets the eye… Enjoy!

Valley of Time: The Greatest Journey Ever Taken
I almost didn’t finish this one – not that it was badly written or anything, just because the beginning felt almost exactly like a repeat of the first book and because the questions I raised at the end of that one were nowhere near my mind – or the story – this time around… I persevered – largely because of other people’s reviews, honestly – and in the end can report that it is NOT a repeat of the earlier book, although there were a number of similarities (most notably in the first half). Central among those is my incredulity that anyone who had been in marketing for as long as Mal Thomas would continue to be so willing to suspend disbelief and wholeheartedly believe what CEOs were telling him… I say that a bit tongue-in-cheek, but just a bit – especially in this second book, there were a number of times when I found myself making “WTF?!” notes on my Kindle because I couldn’t really accept that anyone who had been through the things he had would continue marching along so open-heartedly. Still, I suppose Mal’s willingness to look on the bright side of things to the point of needing sunglasses in a closet at night is one of his more endearing qualities – even if it sometimes makes his actions in the story a little hard to swallow…

This book wasn’t as dark as the first Mal Thomas story – I should have suspected that going in, since, unlike the earlier volume, there were no flashback/flashforward cues. Instead, I found myself continuously waiting for the other shoe to drop – that may have been why I found this one slower-going, and if so, it’s entirely on me as a reader and not at all a short-coming of the book. The mystical aspects of this installment were significantly downplayed after Mal’s earlier escapades; I was surprised at this, and found the incorporation of Rahim to feel somewhat stilted and forced as a result. It felt like a thrown in add-on, to connect the two books, rather than an organic element of the story as it did in the earlier book.

I realize my entire review is a comparison of the two – that may not be entirely fair, and if not, I apologize. But the similarities/connections between them were so profound throughout much of VoT that I couldn’t help viewing the book through lenses colored by my consecutive reading of them. I think in hindsight that it might have been better to read them separately, with more time in between, to allow me to distance myself from the expectations engendered by my earlier reading. I think you could probably even read this one as a stand-alone – you wouldn’t entirely understand the Rahim/Mal’s popularity references with the same breadth, but there is probably enough backstory sprinkled in this one to keep you from feeling like you’re behind the eight ball. The writing in this one is engaging and easy enough to fall in to – as was the case with Sea of Doubt – and the focus would then be more on Huw and Space Rider, rather than on what you think Mal will find himself in the midst of this time (which is what happened to me during my reading)…

My review copy of Valley of Time was provided by NetGalley.

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