The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance by Glenn Dakin
Series: Candle Man #1
Release Date: Sept. 2009
Publisher: Egmont USA
Theo's life has been ruled by the number three. Thanks to a mysterious "illness", he has found himself in the care of three people who rarely allow him beyond his three locked rooms. The only time he's let out of his rooms is on his birthday, which is usually only to walk around a graveyard. Yet, this last birthday, promises to change everything. His life is about to be shaken up like the snow in the odd snow globe left by an unknown person. Theo can sense that there's someone out there that knows more about him, but will they have the answers that will finally unlock the truth? Or will he just be trapped in a new sort of prison?
The Short of It: I’m still not sure what to think about Candle Man. I enjoyed it overall, but often found myself frustrated by not knowing what the heck was going on. Even so, I’m pretty sure I’ll pick up book two once it’s out to see where Dakin takes it.
Plot: If I had to sum up the plot for Candle Man in one word it would be complicated! Half the time I had no idea what was happening or how it would all tie together. There are a lot of characters and plot twists that a reader has to keep track of. I was never quite sure who to trust, who the good guys were, and what the heck Theo was/what was happening to him. Ok, so maybe I did figure those things out along the way, but there were times I wanted to doubt that the good guys were really the good guys. And really, I still kind of have my doubts and will be interested to see where Dakin takes the series.
Characters: Honestly, I didn’t have a strong like or dislike to most of characters. No instant BFFs here. Theo has been shut up since birth and really has no concept of how to interact with others normally. (Does anyone know how old Theo is?!) He’s pretty socially awkward and relies heavily on good manner books that Dr. Saint has given him over the years. I can see a lot of potential in what Theo can be, but right now I really still see him as an infant. He has a couple of choices of roads he can travel and that could drastically change him. It will be interesting to see how much of his innocence is sapped away as he’s pushed into a role he doesn’t seem to truly want.
And then there is Chloe. Talk about a girl with a lot of spunk that is not afraid to leap. She’s the one that I’m most looking forward to getting to know more. There are still a lot of secrets surrounding Chloe (and most of the other characters) and I hope Dakin continues to unravel them. I was kind of sad when her presence left and really wished she had been around more. (Trying to be careful about how much I say here) I can only hope Book One is not the last we see of her!
Romance: None. Theo has a hard enough time trying to deal with normal human interactions let alone a romance! I could see a possible hint of one though, but we’ll see if it actually goes that way in the up-coming books.
Writing: Writing is very simplistic, but then Candle Man is aimed at a younger audience. I’ve read my fair share of JUV books and Dakin fits solidly among them. The writing is easy enough that 4th & 5th graders will be able to read it but still something older kids will enjoy. The only thing that really bothered me was the “That’s so nice of you, Mr. Nicely” & “Very saintly of you, Dr. Saint”. The first time I saw it I kind of chuckled, but after that it got kind of annoying. I was glad that Dakin did seem to use it less frequently as the story moved along.
Librarian-Mode: On the back of the book they mentioned Percy Jackson, but I’m not sure that Candle Man quite falls into the same category. Some Percy Jackson fans may like it, but I have a feeling it would do better among those who like Series of Unfortunate Events or The Mysterious Benedict Society. Those who love mysteries and lots of fast-paced steam punk action will love this book.
Ok, now it’s your turn! Have you read Candle Man? If so, what did you think?