Friday, January 23rd, 2004 at 2:54pm
[Source: Guest Review by GaliGee]
Wondering whether you need to spend $4.99 to pick up the first Bionicle book about Metru Nui? Respected BZPower member GaliGee has provided us with a guest review of Bionicle Adventures 1, The Mystery of Metru Nui, which is available online and in stores now.
The sixth Scholastic novel in the Bionicle storyline is an enjoyable introduction into the amazing world of Metru Nui. It shows how the Toa Metru came into being and sets the scene for their confrontation with the first set of enemies in the time before time in the City of Legends. This entertaining and well-written book adds depth and detail to the story told in Comic #16.
This is the sixth novel about Bionicle and the second by Greg Farshtey. The first four books, penned by freelance writer Cathy Hapka, have a simple writing style and contain little new material. But overall, they present a good summary of the main characters and major events from the Toa�s arrival on Mata Nui through the end of the Mask of Light saga.
There is a clear difference in the two most recent books, for two reasons. First, the new volumes present more original material. Second, they are written by LEGO�s own Greg Farshtey, who is one of the foremost authorities on Bionicle. This allowed him to weave a lot more detail and background into the books, and it prevented the kind of discrepancies from other storyline sources (primarily the Web) that appeared in the first four books.
This mystery story begins with Turaga Vakama supervising the construction of boats to take the inhabitants of Mata Nui back to the great metropolis of Metru Nui from which they came. Since only the Turaga remember this great island city across the silver sea that lies underneath Mata Nui, he tells the Toa Nuva the history of what happened there to prepare them for what they will find.
The narrative then moves into the past, shifting between the various Toa Metru. It explains how they came to be transformed from Matoran to Toa, chose their weapons, and set out to find six missing Matoran and the Great Disks (Kanoka). These Kanoka will ultimately unlock the secret to defeating the dreaded Morbuzakh, an enormous malevolent plant that is crushing huge sections of the city. One of the missing Matoran has made a deal with two mysterious villains--one four-legged and sinister, the other huge, shadowy, and anonymous--to deliver the Kanoka. These creatures have captured Toa Lhikan, hero of Metru Nui.
The action is fast and well described, and in typical LEGO fashion, the heroes are required to use their brains as much as their newfound powers. With no time to explain their mission to others, the Toa Metru must avoid the spiderlike Vahki (order-enforcement agents of Turaga Dume) while they search, as well as various other perils, including wild Rahi, Rahkshi, and the Morbuzakh. To add to the challenge, the missing Matoran don�t want to be found in some cases. By the end of the book, the Toa Metru develop a theory as to which Matoran is the traitor, but it remains unconfirmed. The story ends with a cliffhanger.
This short (122-page) book is packed with a lot of new information, even for a seasoned Bionicle fan. I found myself flipping back every few pages at the beginning to keep track of new characters and city details. But Greg Farshtey is a skilled and entertaining writer, and he integrates it so well into the compelling plot, that after the first couple chapters I almost didn�t notice how much material I was learning.
A very young reader who knows nothing of Bionicle might find the plot a bit complex, but it�s written with a reasonably simple vocabulary and clear descriptions, and the action is exciting. I asked my 7-year-old daughter (BZPower member Dargan) to read a few pages, and she told me she didn�t have any trouble understanding it. She wanted me to read the rest to her, and my older daughter (pohatu jr, age 11) wandered in to listen, fascinated. They both really liked the fast-paced adventure in the story.
Older readers will enjoy the rich descriptions of the city�s culture and commerce and the sophisticated character development. In particular, the missing Matoran�s motivations were very well explained, as well as the Toa Metru�s reactions to being thrust into positions of great power and responsibility (apologies to Stan Lee).
The book contains a lot of tidbits to reward the fan who is quite familiar with the universe of Bionicle. (�As usual, trying to get a scholar to take a break from his studies was like trying to teach kolhii rules to a Rahkshi.�) The author has been careful to keep the entire book within this universe, and he uses a full range of previous storyline events and characters to enrich the story.
As this book reveals the Turaga�s mysterious past, it will entertain a variety of readers, from younger kids just following the action to older fans who appreciate the subtleties of the characters. In black and white print, it paints a very colorful picture of LEGO�s next gift to Bionicle fans, the fascinating imaginary city of Metru Nui. After reading the book, any anxiety I had about my favorite biomechanical characters abandoning their island paradise for an urban environment completely vanished. I�m definitely ready for Metru Nui now.
My reaction on finishing the book was the same as Takanuva�s at the end of Turaga Vakama�s tale: �That can�t be the end of the story.� But the good news is that LEGO will have to treat us to another book.
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