Guest Book Review: The Sixth Power by Carol Nicolas
The Sixth Power was written by Carol Nicolas. Here is the official synopsis from Goodreads: Tania Westing, a high school senior, is one of the Gifted Ones, descendants of an ancient family with seven special powers. Some of the powers are common, and some are rare.
Until her geneticist brother Tom was murdered, Tania lived an ordinary life. Now hidden in her mind is a clue that will reveal Tom’s research, including secret formulas to unlock all seven powers. During spring break, Tania meets and falls in love with handsome Dan Maclean. When Tania reveals her rare power to heal, the evil Gifted Ones who killed Tom suspect Tania has his research and formulas and come after her. Tania must learn to use her powers to help save Dan’s sister in time to keep Tom’s secrets safe.
I liked this book. It seems to straddle the YA and adult line; while written in the simpler YA style, the length of the book, as well as the themes, are more suitable for adult books.
I’d like to get my negative comments out of the way first. The pace of the book seemed slow. While the individual chapters are somewhat short and seem to go by quickly, the overall pace seems a little slow. Certain scenes could have been shortened and some were redundant, drilling in information we already had and not adding anything new. It isn’t a slow read by any means, but could have been edited a bit more.
My biggest concern was the use of Lord of the Rings. The book is Tania’s favorite (and obviously the author’s as well) and serves an important point in the story, as it part of the key to Tom’s secret to Tania. Many LOTR characters are named, an in-universe LOTR game is made, a passage from the book is a vital clue to Tom’s research, you see my point? Part of me wondered about the legality of using LOTR so prominently in the book. While I’m sure brief mentions are no cause for lawsuits, making a passage from the book a key (and recurring) clue seemed to me to be asking for trouble for the author. Also, as much as I hate to say it, not everyone has read LOTR. I tried but gave up. While I’m familiar with the world because of the films, not everybody would and wouldn’t get the same sense of excitement and familiarity if they don’t know the characters. I would have preferred Nicolas had made her own in-universe book to reference. Perhaps she could have made it her next novel as well, the way J.K. Rowling made the in-universe Harry Potter book The Tales Of Beedle The Bard an actual real-life book.
Onto the good stuff. The characters were well-written. I liked Tania and was glad to see a teenager trying to do right in the world. She keeps healthy, tries to help out her dad, and is basically a good kid. In this book, the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad. It is a very black and white world and a nice change. They aren’t without their own struggles, many of which involve family duties and personal angst; but the characters care for one another and that comes across the page very well. The villain was somewhat underutilized but it is made clear there is more going on than the present situation and the book ends on a cliffhanger. The Gifts seem mundane for my tastes but i still enjoyed their use and there are some nice surprises as well.
This is a good YA book filled with positive messages. Be a good person, and good things will happen, is one of them and it is nice to see an author has a sunny outlook on the world.