Thursday, 4 October 2012

Review: The Power of Five: Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz (spoiler free)

Having escaped from Hong Kong, the Five Gatekeepers - Matt, Pedro, Scott, Jamie and Scarlett - are scattered in a hostile and dangerous world. As they struggle to re-group and plan their next move, the malevolent King of the Old Ones gathers his forces in Oblivion: a desolate landscape where the last survivors of humanity must fight the ultimate battle.

If you have arrived here at The Book Zone (For Boys) for the first time, because you searched for a review for Oblivion, the fifth and final book in Anthony Horowitz's stunning The Power of Five series, then hello and thanks for dropping by. It doesn't matter if you are a boy or a girl (or an adult who, like me, loves reading books targeted at children and young adults), all are welcome here. If you arrived here by these means then you also do not need me to tell you anything about the previous four books in the series, as I am sure you have already read them at least once, and in some cases multiple times. If, however, you have stumbled across this post and you have not yet had the immense pleasure of discovering this series then stop reading right now and go and read them, starting with Raven's Gate, as although this review will not contain any spoilers for Oblivion, I cannot promise the same about the rest of the story so far.

Some people have been waiting patiently for four years for this final instalment to the series to be released whilst Anthony sat on his backside twiddling his thumbs wrote a fantastic end to the Alex Rider series, and a brilliant addition to the Sherlock Holmes stories. However, some people (me included) have been waiting just a little bit longer for Oblivion - it has been twenty three years since Day of the Dragon, the fourth book in the Pentagram series, was published, a series that Anthony would go on to rewrite as The Power of Five. I did not discover these books back in the 80s when they were first released - I had to wait until I discovered them in a Birmingham charity shop not long after I started teaching in 1995, but seventeen years is still quite a wait. Was it worth it? Hell yes!

Before I say any more, I want to remind you of the closing lines of Necropolis, words that sent many a Power of Five fan's heart racing with concern, and no doubt caused howls of frustration to echo out across the land:

"The Five had entered the door without knowing where they were going, so none of them would have arrived in the same place. They would be as far apart now as they had ever been. Worse than that, the door had been disintegrating even as they had passed through it, and the final blast had played one last trick on them. If the five of them had survived the journey, they would find out very soon.

It would be a very long time before they found each other again."

What a cliffhanger that was! It left fans wondering whether all of The Five would survive, and where on earth the doorway would take them. It was also the perfect set-up for Oblivion. I don't think it is creating a spoiler to say that not only are The Five scattered around the world (again), but the doorway also sent them all ten years into the future, by which time the King of the Old Ones has had his wicked way with Planet Earth. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong - war, famine, disease, environmental meltdown, death and destruction - you name it, it has happened somewhere or other. Nowhere on earth has gone unaffected, giving the poor, unsuspecting Five quite a shock as they arrive through a variety of doorways, not knowing where the others are, or even if they survived the hasty escape from Hong Kong. They also quickly discover that the doorways are all inexplicably no longer working, meaning they will have to rely on more traditional means of travelling if they are to come together again to banish Chaos and the Old Ones back to whichever hell they came from.

You would be right in thinking this a seemingly impossible task, especially given that the minions of the Old Ones have had ten years to prepare for their arrival. Have no fear though, this is an Anthony Horowitz book and the man does have a knack of bringing things together to create a nice neat ending. Be warned as well though, this is an Anthony Horowitz book and the man does have a propensity for killing off main characters. There are both sides of the coin for you. What would you prefer? A nice neat ending with a favourite character being slaughtered by the Old Ones? Or perhaps a death-free end for The Five and their friends, but loose ends left blowing in the wind. I would certainly prefer the former of the two, and again, it's not really creating spoilers when I tell you that this is the road that Mr Horowitz chooses to travel, although you could stick hot pins under my toenails and I still wouldn't tell you who dies and who lives, or whether any of The Five manage to fully triumph over the forces of evil.

I'm rambling now, and that is because I am finding it very difficult not to create spoilers. I was one of the incredibly fortunate few who received an early proof of this book (naturally I dropped everything to read it) and I have been agonising over this review for some time. It is only now, the day before its release, when I feel I can no longer put off writing it any longer, and so I have forced myself to sit down and get it written. Why am I finding it so difficult? Well, I really, really loved this book but to really explain why would just create so many spoilers. I loved the characters, and the way Anthony really tests them to their limits; I loved the many, many action scenes (he does action so well); I loved the varied (almost) post-apocalyptic locations and their (often insane) inhabitants who have all been affected in some way or another over the past ten years. And most of all, I loved how Mr Horowitz has taken many of the issues facing our planet and its population today, and imagined what they would be like after ten years of Chaos and his Old Ones. The imaginary future he creates is all the more scary because in the back of your mind you realise that unless something is done pretty damn soon by the world's numerous governments then his fiction could become a very painful not-too-dissimilar reality for us all.

Oblivion is more than 650 pages long, and I am sure there will be some who will question this. However, I doubt many of these detractors will actually read it, and if they did they would quickly realise that when your five main characters (and various friends) are scattered around the world, it does take many, many words to lead them up to the ending that he delivers for his fans. However, I'm also not going to sit here and say that the book is perfect, as in my mind it isn't. I have one small gripe, and that is I felt it could have been just a handful of pages longer. Just twenty or thirty, as after the wonderful (or should that be horrific?) journeys he creates for his Five, the final climactic scenes in Antarctica just seemed to come to an end a little too quickly for my liking. However, I don't want to dwell on this as I had so much enjoyment reading this final instalment to a series that in one way or another has kept be enthralled and entertained for more than fifteen years.

So what next for Anthony Horowitz? Well why don't you come back tomorrow when I will be joined by the great man himself. Yes, Anthony Horowitz has taken part in a Q&A for The Book Zone, where he tells us a little more about Oblivion and also gives us a few hints as to what he has in the pipeline. Obviously, I've already seen his answers and I'm pretty excited about his plans.

My huge, huge thanks go to the lovely people at Walker Books, and the wonderful Justin Somper for so kindly arranging for me to have an early copy of this book. Oblivion is published today - if you are a Power of Five fan then go out and get your copy and make sure you keep the weekend free of any other plans. You won't regret it.



  1. I really liked Oblivion and read it in a day, but was very sad, in a way, that the books had ended. I really hope that Anthony Horowitz writes another series like this, or a book explaining what happens next

  2. OHMAGOD!!! 'Twas brilliant!! Haven't even finished it, but I can feel the danger coming. I remember Evil Star striking me as particularly good, but now I know for sure that Oblivion has completely outdone it :) In my class I'm like the only girl who reads them, and I will never understand why other girls don't love as much!

  3. Undoubtedly, One of the greatest book series ever written for teenagers. The Power of Five series is incredible. The way the characters' story lines are so perfectly thawed out and the way he manages to create a very believable future Earth. The book has great action scenes and the way each part of the book is dedicated to one character is great. The book never gets boring and always keeps you reading. The book is the best in the series and has a great ending (although I agree it could have been a bit longer) and a superb epilogue. A massively satisfying and rewarding end to this wonderful book series. Well worth the wait. 9.9/10

  4. oh i know who's going to die in the end .i haven't read it yet and i'm going to loose it if i don't get my hands on it

  5. Best Book I have ever read, and trust me, I've read A LOT of books. This just outdoes everything I had ever imagined for a book. If you think that this is the end of all books because it is so good, don't give up! I recommend the Gone series by Michael Grant. I haven't finished but it almost reaches the standard from Oblivion (p.s i am just a 12 year old boy with a really good taste in books.)