Series: The Colours of Madeleine #2
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on 2014-03-25
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Princess Ko's been bluffing about the mysterious absence of her father, desperately trying to keep the government running on her own. But if she can't get him back in a matter of weeks, the consequence may be a devastating war. So under the guise of a publicity stunt she gathers a group of teens -- each with a special ability -- from across the kingdom to crack the unsolvable case of the missing royals of Cello.
Chief among these is farm-boy heartthrob Elliot Baranski, more determined than ever to find his own father. And with the royal family trapped in the World with no memory of their former lives, Elliot's value to the Alliance is clear: He's the only one with a connection to the World, through his forbidden communications with Madeleine.
Through notes, letters, and late nights, Elliot and Madeleine must find a way to travel across worlds and bring missing loved ones home. The stakes are high, and the writing by turns hilarious and suspenseful, as only Jaclyn Moriarty can be.
Jaclyn Moriarty is definitely one of the most creative and witty authors out there. I read her book The Year of Secret Assignments and was fascinated by her writing. Her books revolve around unique premises, and are filled with humor, philosophy, and entertaining ramblings. They touch on serious topics, but are never depressing. I always know what to expect when I pick up one of her books, and I always enjoy them. A lot.
I have so many words I want to use to describe The Cracks in the Kingdom, so here’s my list: clever, strange, whimsical, original, enchanting, intoxicatingly creative, deep, complex, beautiful, quirky, delightful, artful, and of course, hilarious. Whew. I mean every one of these adjectives, so I didn’t want to forget to mention any. There’s just so many aspects to Moriarty’s writing and elements of the book that need to be mentioned.
As in the first book, A Corner of White, the Kingdom of Cello is just as magical and exciting as ever. Sometimes vicious and sometimes wonderful color attacks occur across the kingdom, deftball players leap and rough each other up, and incredibly delicious treats bake in homes around The Farms. Only in this book, we get to travel all over the kingdom seeing different provinces — the Magical North and its perma-winter, Jagged Edge and its highly technologized and party-loving culture, and the charmingly crazy Olde Quainte. Learning more about Cello was nothing short of delightful — can I go back? Jagged Edge was especially fascinating.
The Cracks in the Kingdom added so much complexity, definitely proving itself to be better than the first book. The Royal Family having been forcibly transported to the World means that the book revolves around a new and exciting quest to find them and bring them home, all executed by the new Royal Youth Alliance (RYA). New characters from the RYA join the cast, providing for some major character diversity and a lot of laughs. And as their written exchanges become deeper, Madeleine and Elliot’s relationship intensifies.
This last element was perhaps my favorite. It was refreshing to read about a younger teenage relationship after having read so many other YA romances (between older characters) that are so much more serious and consuming. The feelings between Elliot and Madeleine are so pure, fragile, and tentative. There is so much hope, and also so much caution. It is a beautiful thing to behold, this falling, this orbiting of each other, this alignment of fractured pieces. It isn’t overwhelming in the book, but I was still rooting for them. They are friends looking for support that find a little more.
And if I didn’t quite appreciate it enough in the last book, Moriarty’s writing blew me away in this book. Possibly to another kingdom. She weaves together so many seemingly unrelated things — physics, magic, philosophy, and family — so that they become one tapestry of brilliance. Madeleine especially contemplates so many things it makes my head spin. When I’m reading everything in this book seems to come alive and is awash in color ( in fact, I’d be interested in seeing Kayla @ The Thousand Lives do one of her Saturated Reads on this series). Moriarty is a master of detail, comparisons, and pretty much everything else. And it says something that this book is incredibly quote-worthy, if you can’t already tell by all these pictures.
The only (very slight) issue I have with The Cracks in the Kingdom is its length. It approaches 500 pages (it’s 467), and I felt like the beginning was a little slow, especially since I read the first book so long ago. But this problem dried up in my mind when I began to hit the major events in the book, and then I didn’t want it to end. Aaaack. Seriously, the next book doesn’t even have a publication date or Goodreads profile yet! >:(