Reviews provided by Syndetics
School Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-This sequel to Magic or Madness (Penguin, 2005) opens with 15-year-old Reason Cansino reminiscing about her early life with her mother, bringing new readers and fans of the first book up to speed. A magical golem-type creature comes in through the door that links her grandmother's house in Australia and New York City and attacks the magically talented teen and her similarly gifted friends, Tom and Jay-Tee. When Reason is pulled through the door and lands in Manhattan, she turns to Jay-Tee's brother, Danny, for shelter. After determining that the attacks come from "Old Man Cansino," one of her ancestors, she has to figure out what he's trying to teach her, and how he's been able to survive for hundreds of years, since most magic users either die very young from using their power or go insane if they do not. Reason has sex with Danny and, at the end of this installment, she is pregnant and is charged with saving the others from their seemingly no-win situations. Larbalestier creates complex relationships among her characters, and their realistic flaws, combined with the sense of danger throughout, make this a good choice for even reluctant readers. Details about how Reason and her friends perceive and use magic add to the realism and immediacy of the story. Australian terms are defined in a somewhat humorous glossary but are generally understandable from context clues.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 8-11. If I don't use my magic, I'll go mad. . . . If I do use it, I'll most likely die before I turn twenty. In book 2 in Larbalestier's Magic or Madness trilogy, the witch matriarch Esmeralda gathers Jay-Tee, Tom, and granddaughter Reason in her Sydney home to help them negotiate the cruel costs of magic wielding. The teens' paths diverge when Reason is abruptly yanked through her grandmother's magic door back to New York City--where the 15-year-old faces a zombie who smells like burnt rubber crossed with spew and initiates a romance with Jay-Tee's older brother (to whom she abruptly, though not unwillingly, loses her virginity). The pacing and complex narrative structure seem less sure here than in Larbalestier's 2004 debut, and, consequently, some readers may weary of idiosyncrasies such as the abundant Aussie slang (notwithstanding the provided glossary). But the urgency surrounding the magic-or-madness double bind remains strong, and committed fans will take the good with the bad in anticipation of a more tightly woven finale. --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2006 Booklist
Horn Book Review
The sequel to Magic or Madness hits the ground running, raising the stakes by introducing a new villain (or is he a savior?) who may hold the key to escaping the impossible choice between madness and early death. Teens Reason, Tom, and Jay-Tee are distinct and sympathetic, and the juxtaposition of their youthful energy and bitter mortality creates a powerful emotional thrust. Glos. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
Sequel to Magic or Madness (2005), this second in a proposed trilogy continues the story of 15-year-old Reason, an Australian girl who has spent much of her life running away from the magic that dominates her family. She now understands that running won't help her, it will only bring her closer to a terrible choice . . . use magic and die young, or stay away from magic and go mad. Her grandmother and friends in Australia want to help her, and her grandfather in New York City wants to steal her magic to lengthen his own lifespan. Transported between two physical worlds, and hung on the horns of the metaphysical, Reason must find her own path. In this installment, Reason makes some life-altering choices as she makes the transition from innocent child to young adult, and becomes more determined than ever to alter the direction of her life. Those who enjoyed the first installment will race through this second one and wait anxiously for the proposed end of the trilogy, in which one hopes for final and clearer resolutions for Reason and her friends. (Fantasy. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.