(Also posted on Goodreads)
It must be a sign that you’re really into a book series when, while waiting for the next installment to come out, you’re thinking in detail about what you want to see: ‘I hope we get a lot of this character’ or ‘I hope this aspect of the world is explored in more detail’. That’s how I felt about Raelia, the second installment of Lynette Noni’s Medoran Chronicles, and it didn’t disappoint. I delved into it with great enthusiasm and finished it in four days.
Following the events of the first book, Akarnae, Alex Jennings is returning to the alternate world of Medora for another year at Akarnae Academy. On top of being reunited with her friends and getting back into the ever more difficult curriculum, Alex also has another concern: the exiled Meyarin prince Aven Dalmarta is still at large, and intending to use her to return to his home world where he can regain power. And the best way that Alex can help resist Aven is to head to the city of Meya herself, a place where no human has gone in a very long time.
Summing up this book in one word is simple: ‘fun’. If you want to read about a world and characters with a positive atmosphere, that you can really relax and enjoy yourselves with, this is the book for you. (That’s not to say that it’s all fun and games – there is a dangerous villain at large throughout, and things take an especially dark turn towards the end, probably setting the scene for books to come.) Lynette Noni takes the reader to a number of new places after the first book and paints vivid, beautiful pictures describing them. But we also get more of the interesting and engaging Akarnae curriculum (plus an explanation of its full relevance and applicability in one scene). Even at points when Alex is just taking her classes and the main villain, Aven, is not directly involved, you always want to see what will happen next because the hard-core classes and diverse characters suck you in so well. The prose is very readable, and the action scenes are always exciting. I was very satisfied with the new elements that were explored: for example, after learning about D.C.’s background towards the end of the first book, I’d hoped for a closer look – and as it turns out, that’s where Raelia opens.
Alex Jennings grew on me even more as a character in this second book. In the first book, she felt a bit Mary-Sue-ish; but while she gains even more unique abilities in this book, she’s often not sure what to do with them, and sometimes they can’t do much more than give her a fighting chance. But in spite of all her skills, she’s still a normal teenager at heart: someone who makes mistakes, likes to have fun and doesn’t always know how to overcome a challenge, or believe that she can do so. The chemistry between Alex and everyone around her – friends, teachers and new acquaintances – is really great. A lot of the story’s humour comes from Alex’s interactions with the more unfamiliar, fantastical characters, plus the typical teenage behaviour of herself and her classmates.
One thing I would nitpick about is how the issue of Alex’s parents was handled. Obviously it had to be addressed somehow, since Alex returned to her original world at the end of the first book but would be coming back to Akarnae for this one. While I was glad that there was no charade or excuses involved, the solution still felt rushed and rather too easy. There were also a few pop culture references that felt out of place, like when Alex describes another character as resembling Jafar from Aladdin.
If the overall quality of Raelia, and the intensity of its ending, are anything to go by, The Medoran Chronicles are just going to get better and better. Rating: 4.5/5.