I generally don’t review the books I speed read on the treadmill, although I’ve made a few exceptions; one of those exceptions mentioned Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer and its sequel, The Wright 3. I enjoyed both of those, although the mystic ‘meaning of art’ emphasis is harder for me to relate to. (I’m weakest in the visual arts.) The Calder Game was similar, if on a broader scale, and I enjoyed that one as well. The amount of disbelief to suspend as an adult and a parent grows a bit with each book, but I’ve decided that’s life with middle grade mysteries. It is what it is.
After The Calder Game I read Balliett’s two stand-alones, The Danger Box and Hold Fast, because each has a character that shows up in Pieces and Players, which comes after The Calder Game. I enjoyed those two the most, I think, probably because they emphasized the written word rather than the visual arts, and I’m all over that. Tonight I finished Pieces and Players, which is why I opted for more of a group review, and I had mixed feelings about it. The amount of disbelief to suspend grew astronomically for this last installment, and I had some trouble doing so. My real problem, however, was the randomness of the bulk of the book. I may have been affected by some of the reviews I read beforehand, but there really did seem to be a lot of announcing random facts as significant bits of information. There was most certainly an excess of behavior (and people!) described as sinister. (Also rather a lot of obsessing about various effects of puberty, not all of which came across as completely natural.) Thankfully, the ending was enjoyable enough to leave a more positive feeling about the book with me; it was, however, still the weakest in the series. On the other hand, I imagine my artist of a ten-year-old will enjoy it!