So, Sally’s dad’s ship goes down and now she is an Orphan, and she lives with a Prim Aunt until she flees so that she can be Helpless and Alone and win some Useful Friends, which she will need because Someone Dastardly is out to Get her, and it all has to do with a Valuable Gem (oh hell, it’s a ruby and you know it) that was lost and found and lost again ad nauseum and now the Someone Dastardly thinks Sally knows where to find it. Many people die, surprisingly.
And it’s amazing how someone can be so fantastic with his world-buidling in one instance, and then so lazy and boring with his characterization and so flat with his dialogue and so tedious with his mystery and so lame with its solution in another. I may have to re-read the Dark Materials to cleanse my brain-palate.
And it’s the first in a series and the pages to the right get very few before all and sundry are solved and for a few minutes I thought that I would be cliff-hangered, Patrick-Ness-style, which would be awful, mein chatzen, because on the one hand I can’t stand not knowing but on the other hand I can’t stand this book. But the marbles are gathered in the end, and if you make it to the final pages you will at least have the pleasure of knowing what happens, even if you don’t really have the pleasure of caring.