With The Rivers of Zadaa, the sixth book in his PENDRAGON series for young adults, D.J. MacHale gets the series back on track after a disappointingly preachy fifth book. If you haven’t read the previous books, but plan to, I advise you to read no further in this review. It’s impossible to talk about The Rivers of Zadaa without spoiling some of the plot of the previous books.
This time Bobby and Saint Dane are battling it out on Zadaa, Loor’s home planet. Saint Dane is trying to trigger chaos by causing strife between the territory’s two main tribes, the Rokador and the Batu. The Batu, the tribe to which Loor belongs, live on the sunny surface of the planet while the Rokador live in tunnels underground. The tribes used to have a synergistic relationship, but now they are on the verge of civil war because most of the water on the planet has dried up and they are fighting each other for what remains. Bobby and Loor do some snooping around and, with the help of one of Loor’s childhood friends who belongs to the Rokador tribe, they discover what Saint Dane is up to and hope they can figure out how to fix the problems before a war breaks out.
Bobby grows a lot in The Rivers of Zadaa. He finally decides that he needs to be able to defend himself and perhaps to fight Saint Dane, so Loor and her friends put him through a grueling training program. He also realizes that he might be ready to move on from his relationship with Courtney. At the end, Bobby learns that he may have powers that he wasn’t aware of, and this leads him to wonder if maybe he isn’t even human.
Back on Second Earth, Courtney is having a nervous breakdown because she feels so guilty about going through the flume which caused it to break and trapped Spader and Gunny on Eelong. Courtney ends up leaving town, which means she can’t read Bobby’s journals, which is really convenient since Bobby talks about how much he likes another girl in the journals. (I had a really hard time believing Bobby would do that.) Courtney ends up having her own personal adventure which is quite traumatic and emotional and ends on a cliffhanger. For this reason, fans will want to make sure they have the next book, The Quillan Games, in hand by the time they finish The Rivers of Zadaa.
There’s some great scenery and a lot of exciting action in The Rivers of Zadaa. I especially loved the underground scenes — they were picturesque and sometimes nail-bitingly scary. The villain is still unbelievably juvenile, and I don’t like that he has the ability to shape-shift into any character in the book because it makes it too easy for him to accomplish his goals and too unpredictable for the reader, but still, The Rivers of Zadaa is one of the more thrilling PENDRAGON novels.
I still recommend the audio versions of this series. William Dufris’ narration is entertaining.
Pendragon — (2002-2009) Young adult. Publisher: Bobby Pendragon is a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy. He has a family, a home, and even Marley, his beloved dog. But there is something very special about Bobby. He is going to save the world. And not just Earth as we know it. Bobby is slowly starting to realize that life in the cosmos isn’t quite what he thought it was. And before he can object, he is swept off to an alternate dimension known as Denduron, a territory inhabited by strange beings, ruled by a magical tyrant, and plagued by dangerous revolution. If Bobby wants to see his family again, he’s going to have to accept his role as savior, and accept it wholeheartedly. Because, as he is about to discover, Denduron is only the beginning…
Pendragon: Before the War — (2008- ) A Pendragon prequel with Carla Jablonski and Walter Sorrells. Publisher: Before Bobby Pendragon. Before Saint Dane. Before the war… Every territory of Halla has a Traveler. They lived for years — some even for decades — before learning of their true destiny. What was life like for Bobby Pendragon’s fellow Travelers before they joined him in the fight to save every time and place that has ever existed? What led up to their becoming the guardians of Halla? The answers are here! In this first of three thrilling Pendragon prequels, read about Vo Spader’s death-defying adventures in the underwater world of Cloral, Gunny Van Dyke’s race to find a murderer in 1930’s Manhattan on First Earth, and the tough challenges Kasha faced on Eelong well before Bobby Pendragon arrived…
The Guide to the Territories of Halla — (2005) Publisher: All there ever was; all that will be. For the first time, see the amazing sights of Halla as only Bobby Pendragon has. From the watery depths of Cloral to the rugged mountain ranges of Denduron to the jungles of Eelong, from the Earth territories to the decaying fantasy world of Veelox, it¹s all here. So are the Travelers: Uncle Press, Vo Spader, Loor, Aja Killian, Alder, Gunny, and Kasha, and of course, Bobby Pendragon and Saint Dane. This is your private flume to Halla. Enter and discover old friends while you learn new secrets. But remember one thing: This is only the beginning.