Thursday, August 11, 2011

Before the Blog (3): The Named by Marianne Curley

Some of you already know this, but I've started a weekly meme called "Before the Blog". In short, it's a place to review books you read and loved before you began blogging about them. Basically, you choose a book each week, then answer the following three questions,and post your review.   Then you can add your post to the little Mr. Linky widget below, and voila!

Why did you choose this book? 
When did you read this book?
Who would you recommend this book to?

For more info, see my 1st BtB post by clicking this LINK.  The book I chose this week is pretty awesome, and not at all well-known.  

The Named by Marianne Curley

Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date:  May 11th, 2010 (Re-Release)

Why did you choose this book?  I thought the cover was cool.  Hi.  My name is Karis, and I am a cover whore... I read the synopsis and was intrigued.  At the time, I was selecting books to highlight to the 4th-6th graders at the school book fair, and wanted to give them something that they hadn't heard of.

When did you read this book?  June, 2010.  It's actually an older series; first released in 2002, but they changed the covers and re-released them in paperback starting in May of 2010 (which was a great thing because it was in Barnes & Noble's "New Books" section).

Who would you recommend this book to?  I think this book definitely crosses genres. If you like Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, this is a fabulous book for you.  I also think people interested in Sci-fi would like it, as it involves time-travel, as would Action/Adventure lovers, because it has a lot of martial arts training, sword play, and good vs. evil conflict.  Boys and girls loved it.  Boys, obviously, for the action.  Girls for the human interactions, including a small element of romance.  Parents liked it because it was clean; the romance innocent, the violence mild, and the bad language non-existent, all while still being hugely entertaining.

Ethan is a member of the Named, sworn to fight the Order of Chaos, an evil group determined to permanently change the course of history. But he is also a normal high school student trying desperately to keep up with his homework and fit in. When he is assigned to mentor Isabel, a cute classmate and future member of the Named, the line between his two lives begins to blur. So begins an epic quest as Ethan, Isabel, and others travel through time to battle dark forces and protect the future. 
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

The Named is the first book in The Guardians of Time trilogy.  As I mentioned above, I initially was drawn to this book for the cover.  I was perusing books in the YA section at Barnes & Noble (I consider it a favorite hobby), and my eyes fell on this book.  I was looking for clean YA books to introduce to my 5th and 6th graders that were reading in content and ability beyond the Juvenile/Middle-Grade section.  The 10-12 age range varies widely in terms of maturity and what the kid has been exposed to, and I had to be extremely careful with what I presented to them (especially since I was dealing with a population of generally very involved, conservative private school parents).  As you all know, YA content varies widely as well; squeaky-clean to, quite frankly, books that sometimes make me blush (and I'm no prude!)  That said, I was reading every potential choice for them; fortunately I enjoy YA immensely, so it was not a problem... When I saw this cover I was immediately drawn to it.  It looked sinister, but at the same time beautiful.  Sinister is always a plus for boys, and beautiful for girls, so I had a hunch that this might be a winner...

Was it ever!  This book was amazing!  It really hooked me from the first few pages.  It grabs you at the beginning when you find out about Ethan's dreams about his younger sister's abduction by a monstrous creature years earlier.  He is plagued by this memory that he has always been led to believe is the exaggeration of a traumatized young boy.  Still, because of this event, Ethan has been training with Akarian, for The Guard since a very young age; his sole purpose to fight The Order of Chaos, an organization that travels back in time, attempting to alter history for their own purposes.  The Guard's purpose is to thwart their attempts, so as not to change history, and with it how the events after it unfold (think, The Butterfly Effect).  The Named, the ones who become part of The Guard, are chosen based upon a centuries old prophecy that includes well protected secrets that are only fully known by a council of elders.  If a person is one of The Named, they are obliged.

This book really begins when Ethan receives his first apprentice, who turns out to be the annoying kid sister of his ex-best friend Matt.  Isabel knows nothing of The Guardians of Time or The Order of Chaos, but eventually Ethan convinces her of her obligation.  Ex-best friend Matt is less than thrilled with the amount of time Isabel and Ethan are spending together, which adds a whole other very human element to the story.

Much of the book is centered around Isabel's training and the dangerous, action-packed assignments that they must go on to defeat The Order.  Many questions arise and there are heart-stopping moments galore.  There is loads of mystery and plenty of advanced ideas that are presented in a way that even kids can understand them without difficulty.  What I loved most about this book, besides the wonderfully layered storyline, was the rich, well-developed characters.  Curley describes them in such depth and detail that you feel as if you know them. Most authors spend a great deal of time on the main characters, while leaving the supporting ones less developed.  This was not the case here.  I really felt like she made sure that the reader understood who each character in the book was and how they played a role, no matter how small. I also enjoyed the structure of the book.  It was told in the alternating points of view of both Ethan and Isabel, and I found the depth of their individual feelings about the entire situation very interesting.  Curley did a fabulous job setting the stage for what promises to be an amazing series.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  As I mentioned above.  This book is clean.  No language, no sex, no gratuitous violence.  I actually had two other (more conservative than I) parents read this, and they too loved it, and aligned with me on grade level recommendation.  Content-wise, I would say this is appropriate for 3rd grade and up (ages 8+).  As far a difficulty is concerned, I would say the average 5th grader would have no problem with it.  As the top reader in her grade, my daughter read it in 3rd grade with no difficulty. A few of her friends tried it and most found it too hard.  That said, I would say advanced reading 4th grade+ (ages 9+).  The AR level is a 5.3 (for those unfamiliar with AR, this number means 5th grade, 3 months in).

The next two books are called The Dark and The Key.  I have not read them yet, but I plan to read The Dark very soon (I just picked up a copy the other day), so keep a look out for my review in the upcoming months.  From what I understand, the action becomes much more intense and the romance goes up a notch, although from what I understand, still appropriate for middle grades.  Also, I've heard the character development is even better than than the first book.  Stay tuned!


  1. I tend to choose a book by its cover, too. Leads to some interesting results! This one looks like a winner. I'm going to look for it and read it; then hopefully interest my 'I don't want to read a book' 6th grader!

  2. LOVE your review. Very thorough. I have this on my TBR list, but I think I need to move it up higher now. It sounds fantastic!

  3. Thanks for stopping by Pawing Through Books! I like this idea for a meme. Might have to do it sometime soon!

  4. I like this idea, I've even gone back and reviewed some books when I read them again, as I like to do with favorite book. Thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm a new follower!

  5. This is such a great idea! I had considered reviewing books I read before I started reviewing, so may just take this opportunity!! Although I will have to do little re-reads as my memory sucks at times!!!

    I shall be a new follower after this post :D

  6. this is a good idea, the book sounds a great read.

  7. Thanks for commenting on my Waiting on Wednesday post! I read this series when I was studying abroad in England in 2005-2006. Man this takes me back! I absolutely loved this series (especially Isobel and Arkarian. Oh my goodness, this might call for a reread. I have also read Old Magic, but did not like it as well as this series. This is the type of series where you wish you had written it and the characters were yours. I hope that since they came out with new covers for this series that Marianne Curley is coming out with something new.

    I also love the idea for this meme and am following you now.

  8. Not participating in the meme. Just stopping by and saying a friendly hello and thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm not a real big fan of the fantasy genre, but it looks interesting! LOL, on the cover whore. I guess that makes me one too...

    Happy reading,

    Felicia @ Livin' Life Through Books.

  9. What a great idea! I've always wanted to incorporate books I had read before I started blogging but I could never find the right time, this was a great way to fit them in! Thanks for the great MeMe!

    Morgan @ Once Upon a Reader

  10. I have done this! yayyy! i am excited to help you get the word out! My link is


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