Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Qi by Elizabeth A Svigar

Genre: YA fantasy
Page Count: cerca 120 (avaliable in Kindle and e-book format)
Published: October 2010
Recommended for: fantasy fans and fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
(Purchase this book on Amazon here.)
*I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.*

(from Goodreads): Thirteen-year-old uber-archer Samantha is thrilled to qualify for Xenith, the most prestigious -- and mysterious -- Olympic training facility in the world. Much more than an athletic camp, it's a fantasyland where living dolls and the Baba Yaga abound. Plus there's Dr. Nine, a master alchemist whose magical laboratory is very well guarded indeed. But not all that glitters is Olympic gold. When dangerous secrets begin to surface, Sam must fight to expose Xenith's dark underbelly to save her friends and family...if she survives herself.

My Take:

Qi-- the title of which refers to a 'force of life' similar to 'chi' in Eastern cultures and martial arts-- is a fantasy filled with mythic figures and strong teenage characters, magic, and mystery. Sam and her sister Abby are champion archers and fencers, respectively, and local celebrities.  When their father announces that the girls are ready to travel to Xenith-- a world-class Olympic training camp which is far more than it seems.  At Xenith, Sam and Abby are reunited with their mother-- also an Olympic athlete-- and their old childhood friend Eli.  Sam immediately begins falling for Eli, but longs to uncover more about the mysterious disappearance of his brother, Jonah.  Sam encounters age-old camp traditions, meets the wise old witch Baba Yaga and Will-- a living doll with a witty sense of humor--, along with Bianca, a rival archer and rival for Eli's heart.  Sam makes several startling discoveries which drastically change everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. 

Qi is an immersive book-- I found myself immediately pulled into the story and did not resurface until after rereading the final page.  I loved the feel of Sam's world and Xenith Academy, which was not unlike that of Percy Jackson's Camp Half-Blood.  Elizabeth Svigar writes adeptly, but at a very fast pace that pulls readers into a thrill ride of a fantasy that will not fail to please fellow fans of mythology.  I loved how she combined the mythologies of different cultures-- Eastern and Slavic, for example, and also how the story dips into alchemy with Dr. Nine's fantastical gold-making methods. 

Sam is a very likeable heroine and somehow I even found myself warming up to her nemesis, Bianca.  Now, my pet peeve for this book is that most of the adults are less than helpful to Sam and Abby as they are discovering the strange and magical world of Xenith, even bordering on annoying the heck out of me in a few scenes.  Their father, in particular, seemed to argue consistently with his nemesis, Dr. Dante, and the teenagers tend to seem a lot more mature than the older characters. (Baba Yaga being the exception.)  That aside, I liked all the characters-- Eli, Abby, and especially Will, the living doll.  His quips made me smile again and again as I read.  A series of twists near the finish line round-out this well-crafted novel and exciting fantasy adventure.  Everything about Qi, from its pleasantly quirky characters and mystery-driven plot, to its unique mythology and short, intriguing title, marks it as a fresh and different addition to YA fantasy.  I definitely recommend it to any fantasy fan looking for a unique and fun read, especially a fellow Percy Jackson fan looking for a similar, enthralling read. Qi does not disappoint.

My Rating: 4/5


Kristina Barnes♥ said...

Baba Yaga? Wow, it really draws on its mythology. Strong teenage characters, mythology, and magic? This sounds like my kind of book! Thank you for the review - I'm definitely putting this on my tbr.

Btw, is this a series?

Kat said...

@Kristin-- Hmm, you know, I don't *think* Elizabeth Svigar has any sequels planned for Qi and I've never heard that it is the first book of a series. But, given the ending, I wouldn't be at all surprised if she wrote a sequel. Glad you liked the review! :)

Elizabeth S. said...

Kat - Thank you so much for the review. I'm so glad you liked it and your insights were dead on as to the story/plot, etc.
Kristina - Thanks for the nice words. I do plan on a series, three books, I think. I'm in the planning stages of the next one.

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