Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz

Oblivion cover artThe fifth and final book in the Power of Five series is one of the best and most intriguing books ever written by Anthony Horowitz. More ambitious than his Alex Rider novels, Horowitz portrays a world which we could have only experienced in our most frightening nightmares. But there is hope, there always is: a group of five supernaturally gifted children (or teenagers I should say) are destined to save the world from the scourge of the Old Ones, ancient demons.

If you are familiar with the series you know that the Five can only save mankind when they are together. And obviously they are not. The world is dominated by these ancient demons, Old Ones, as humans serve them in order to stay alive. The Old Ones have settled in Antarctica. In order for the Five to defeat them the children need to find each other and travel all the way to Bad ‘Guys’ HQ. A simple story, right?

With Horowitz nothing is as it seems. The way he describes the new apocalyptic world is immense and breathtaking. Surely some have read dystopian novels like Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy, but one thing is for sure when it comes to Horowitz: his writing style is unique in every way. He describes a town full of beggars which later appears to be New York City — for me that came really as a shock. In fact he has integrated the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Conquest, War, Famine and Death) right into the story and  has even added a layer of sinister and corrupt human characters.

The story takes us to the most what used to be exotic locations: Egypt, Rome, South America, New York and even Antarctica. It consequently uses these locations to relate to many topical issues that play in nowadays’ world. For example the Arab spring and the Eurozone crisis: Oblivion states that evil is within everyone, even the best of us. That is a very interesting statement for a teen novel. The strong message is underpinned by various ethical dilemmas between the story’s young protagonists. Issues like loyalty to the group and community play a big role  in this book.

Typically, Horowitz has employed the standard, fitting heroic formulae: teens save the world – although they are consequently underestimated, they remain in control. Not very interesting, but that does not matter. The relations between the characters result in suspenseful scenes in story. What is unfortunate though is that Horowitz clearly has failed to describe the perfect villain. The Old Ones have been brought forward vaguely as the antagonists. Therefore as the reader you tend to believe the true antagonist of the story is mankind – yet again another interesting point Horowitz has managed to touch upon.

For being a hardcover with more than 400 pages, Oblivion keeps up the pace very well. Sometimes I found that there it is a bit of too much repetition, but you easily read through that part. It is not necessary to have read the previous parts in order to understand this one.

Empowered by Horowitz’s unique writing style, tantalising conflicts and an excellent blend of adventure and action, it is great to see that a book aimed towards teens only can have such deep and ambitious thoughts underneath a bold storyline.

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