Avoid. At all costs.
(This review is for the first book only. It is also highly abridged - you can find the full version here.) This novel was a massive failure for me in all respects. I don't have a ton of time, but here's a list of everything wrong with it:
- The characters do not behave as real people do.: Alek was laughably emotionless about losing both of his parents at once, and Deryn was laughably emotionless at having to disguise as a boy. Neither of them had a very distinct personality, and they seemed to do things not because it was natural for them to do, but because the plot required them.
- There was no logic.: You'd have to see the full review for all the research I did, but the point is that logic was completely thrown out here. Why not make it a high fantasy, rather than alt-history, so that we don't feel like there should be any logic? The way it is now, I was constantly distracted by the lapses.
- The writing was bland and lacked description.: If not for the (well-drawn) illustrations, I wouldn't be able to picture a single thing in this entire book. I shouldn't need the illustrations like this - the text should be able to stand on its own.
- I couldn't be roused to care about the plot.: The characters were just too boring; I couldn't care what happened to them. It doesn't help that Deryn didn't really do very much - Alek was the only one that kept the plot advancing.