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Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones
Review by CaleynaDWJ usually writes YA fantasy, so I was surprised to find that Hexwood is actually sci-fi. Normally I wouldn't have picked it up at all b/c I prefer fantasy, but something posessed me to buy it, and I had a really nice time with the book.
Hexwood takes place on Earth in the year 1993. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Earthlings are kept ignorant of the greater powers of the universe since Earth is just a backwoods planet in a huge galaxy ruled by the Five Reigners. Confused yet? Basically, all the characters are humans (discounting one robot), but many of them live off-planet.
Our four main characters are Ann, a teenaged Earth girl who is sucked into an intergalatic catastrophe and doesn't even know it; Mordion, an old man who looks like death and can work powerful magic; Hume, a boy created from the blood of Ann and Mordion; and Yam, an old Yamaha robot who must protect Hume. There are also some really evil bad guys, and a nasty evil woman. Knights in shining armour are riding around on occassion, along with a dragon or two.
Due to an incompetent worker on the Hexwood estates, an ancient machine has been turned on. The machine creates some sort of field and everyone within the field becomes controlled by the machine. The incompentent worker believes the machine is just creating life-like role-playing scenarios, but in reality the machine is much more deadly.
The reader doesn't learn much about the plot at first, b/c the machine warps time. Things don't happen in chronological order, so the plot gets very, very confusing. One minute Hume is a five year old boy, the next he is 15. Ann, like the reader, doesn't understand what is going on, but as she figures it out so does the reader. Eventually we learn the purpose of the machine, and we see exactly how it works. I can't say more or I will spoil it all.
I had a really hard time getting into this book b/c of the lack of chronological order. Once I started figuring things out, I couldn't put the book down. I really liked how DWJ pulled everything together at the end, pulling from modern beliefs as well as medival myths. I was laughing out loud at some of the revelations. Overall, I'd say this is a very good YA sci-fi book. I'd say it is a little more mature than the other books I've read by her, which is a good thing. I'll have to give it 4 amulets.
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