The Apprentices by Maile Meloy
This sequel to The Apothecary continues the story of Janie, Benjamin and Pip. It takes place three years after the first book and the three friends are all separated. Janie is attending a private boarding school in the U.S. and working on a science project to desalinate water quickly and inexpensively. But the closer she gets to a solution, the more danger she seems to be in. Benjamin is traveling with his father, the apothecary, in the jungles of Vietnam, helping to heal the wounded in the war. Benjamin has developed a powder that will allow him to communicate with Janie across the world, but it may reveal more than he is prepared to see. Pip is now a television star in Britain, living a cushy life of fame. But he is getting bored, and so is willing to head out to help his friends. The three young people are up against a force that is ruthless, cruel and determined in this dynamic sequel in a great series.
Meloy writes with a great sense of pacing and plot. She manages to keep so many different strands of the story active and interesting, allowing the story space to work itself out with a natural feel. At the same time though, the pacing is tight and controlled, making the book readable and fun. Her writing is both action packed and also intelligent, there are villains and heroes but they are nuanced and their motivations complex. All of this creates a great read for fantasy fans.
A fabulous sequel in a very strong series, this series belongs in all public libraries. Get it into the hands of children who enjoy fantasy mixed with adventure. Appropriate for ages 10-13.
Reviewed from copy received from Putnam.