I haven't been tempted to hide in the bathroom and finish a book in long time, but this summer, I read The Oracle. Do my kids really need to eat anything besides Doritos?
As I mentioned in my review of The Six, my daughters and I are reading K.B. Hoyle's The Gateway Chronicles together. This time, I'm putting Amy's review of the second book, The Oracle, and mine in the same post.
I am 13 years old and have read the 1st book in The Gateway Chronicles, The Six, and I think The Oracle is a great sequel, and follows the storyline very well.
In The Oracle, we follow Darcy and her friends Sam, Amelia, Perry, Lewis, and Dean while they go to summer camp. In The Six, they find a magical word at the summer camp and they find out that they are part of a very important prophecy that says they are to destroy the villain that has taken over Alitheia, The Shadow.
Because Darcy is The Intended, she has to marry the young crown prince, Tellius. Darcy invoked the Oracle, an ancient being that answers any question truthfully, but the answer comes in a riddle and at a price. She asked The Oracle about her marriage with Tellius, who she doesn’t love at all, and her role in the prophecy. Her teacher in Alitheia, Rubidius, was mad at her and tried to prepare her for what was going to happen. It takes months to get to the Oracle, and the answer is much more puzzling than ever. As you follow the story you go through a series of plot twists, secrets, battles, and hope.
I thought the book was very well written. The book made me think of what I would do in that situation that Darcy was put in, and if I would have even invoked the Oracle in the first place. The book also made me think about how I would have felt on the adventure that they went on, what I would have done, and what I would have thought. When Darcy invoked the Oracle, I think she was feeling a kind of pressure, and confusion because of the prophecy.
I highly recommend the book for preteens and teen. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do and I am really looking forward to reading the The White Thread!
The second book in K.B Hoyle's six book series The Gateway Chronicles, and Darcy, now 14, returns to the family camp in Northern Michigan, then to Alitheia with her friends, and, to get straight to the point, really screws up. As we learned in the first book (you can read my review of The Six here, and Amy's here), the six teenagers in the story each have a special role in the prophecy, such as "The Scribe," "The Warrior," and "The Musician." However, Darcy found herself with the role of "The Intended," and told that her role to fighting the darkness in Alithelia was to, someday, marry young Prince Tellius and rule Alithelia alongside him as Queen.
I feel Darcy's initial reaction to that fairy tale idea is to her credit, and to be expected from an independent, young, American woman. She's not okay with being told who to marry, especially since she doesn't exactly hit it off with the young prince of Alitheia. I appreciate that Darcy refuses to be defined by the men around her and not trying to fawn her way into an arranged married to a powerful family. However, Darcy is left with the struggle of being an independent spirit who has an important part a larger picture.
To clarify, Hoyle is obviously not endorsing forced, arranged, or child marriages. In the context of the story, the Darcy's Alitheian mentors are essentially saying, "Give Tellius a chance, he might grow on you if you give it some time and get to know him," and try to explain that the prophecy isn't written to force Darcy into marriage, but foreshadow what is it come once she gets older.
However, Darcy refuses to remain open-minded to the idea that maybe she would love Tellius someday and the prophecy simply means what it says, and Tellius is wary as well. The two immediately begin looking for a loophole that eliminate the possibility from their future plans. As soon as they think they found one, Darcy disregards advice, assumes she knows better than those around her who are more experienced, and in the manner that be expected of a younger person who's still waiting for that frontal lobe to fully develop, makes a drastic move to attempt to gain some control of a situation that's making her feel helpless and confused.
The results are disastrous.
And that's exactly why I'm glad my kids are reading these books.
In The Oracle, Darcy has to face the reality that she made a decision that has serious consequences for the people she cares about and her second home of Alitheia. Her companions and her Alitheian mentors and partners have to rally to correct her mistake and take a dangerous journey. The experience was humbling, humiliating, and heartbreaking for Darcy. (Speaking vaguely to avoid spoilers!)
Darcy had no choice but to own up to her actions and face the fact that fixing it will be downright hard. People besides herself were going to have to make sacrifices to put things right again. She had to begin to recognize that the Alitheians where coming alongside her in danger because they believed in the prophecy, and therefore, her role as their future Queen, to the point where they'd put their lives before her own.
Our culture tends to put the focus on individual feelings, and kids are bombarded with messages such as "I'm just listening to my heart," or "you do what's best for you," or "it'll be okay in the end if you just believe it will." The Gateway Chronicles offer a counter narrative to emotionally-driven individualism. The foundation of the books is a group of individuals who come together and use their gifts and talents to serve a purpose that's bigger than themselves. In the books, it's essential that the characters embrace their abilities and contribute the things only they can contribute, but it's just as essential that the characters keep their eyes on the larger plan and work as a team with a common goal. As we see early in the series, when one person strays from the goal or breaks from the group, the results put the whole land back from their progress in fighting their adversaries. However, it's just as important for the individuals to make sure they step up when they are needed and do their part. When a person didn't contribute their abilities, that was also a set-back.
This is an incredibly important message for kids today. They're already hearing "You're unique!" and "You're special!" but all too often, kids, especially teenagers, are only seeing these slogans in internet memes and on t-shirts, and aren't given the opportunity to struggle through developing the idea of identifying and cultivating the specific talents and perspectives that make them special and define who they are. In a way, everyone can take a role in fulfilling the "prophecies" that could improve their communities, whether it be their families, schools, churches, or neighborhoods. The perspective that young adults can find a place where their individuality is valued because they can contribute something special and unique, while still recognizing they need to work with others to make significant impacts on the world around them and can't do it on their own, is truly an empowering message.