Title: Beneath the Mask: The Grassland Trilogy: Book Two
Author: David Ward
Primary Audience/age group: 13 and up
Genre: Fantasy/Christian Fantasy
# of pages
Publisher: Amulet Books
Year of Release: 2008
Part of a series If yes, 2 of 3 (The Grassland Trilogy)
Rating: 3 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes but with reservations
Escape the Mask (The Grassland Trilogy Book 1) Review
Description: Coriko, Pippa, and a small band of other Diggers have escaped the clutches of the Spears only to be caught again. Forced through the Separation Coriko must become what he’s always hated or live a life without his beloved Pippa. Will Coriko ever be free from a horrible life underneath the rule of the Spears or will he risk everything to do what is right?
Review: The second in the Grassland Trilogy, Beneath the Mask, goes deeper into the elusive lives of the Spears. A horrible truth is revealed about how young men become Spears making Coriko’s life even more despairing. The darkening plot leaves you to wonder just how Coriko will ever be able to thrive. But, with Pippa’s positive outlook and her faith in Someone bigger than herself watching over them in kindness, it shows us how even the most devastating situation still has a thread of hope. Due to some violent scenes in the book, the series is probably not appropriate for a younger audience. See my recommendation below.
Rating: 3 for violence
Positive: Pippa is ever the positive influence, encouraging the others in their small band to do what is right. There’s a continuous message about standing up for what is right even if that means giving up what you have.
Spiritual Elements: Pippa remembers being taught about the Maker, the One she prays to help her not hate those who are causing her such pain. She explains to Coriko how the Maker created everything. God’s name is not mentioned in this book because Pippa only knows Him as the Maker. But, the Maker is the One True God. Pippa also has dreams that come true. Later, Coriko prays a desparate prayer.
Violence: Strays, another band of diggers that turn into savages, attack Coriko’s group with stones and sharpened sticks in order to steal food and abduct other Diggers. Coriko and the others defend themselves with rocks. The attacks end up leaving some of the Diggers dead. Once the Spears seize Coriko’s group, they bind the Digger’s hands then force them overboard a ship causing some to drown.
Spoiler: Coriko becomes a Spear in order to remain with Pippa. He is forced to do horrible acts, raiding villages to steal children and killing a little girl’s father with his dagger. Another young boy obtains a life-threatening wound with a sword and lays dying as a horrified Coriko runs from the scene.
There is at least one scene describing the view of Grassland after the battles between the Spears and Outside. Skeletons are scattered about.
Sexual Content: Pippa and Coriko’s relationship is growing into a more mature one. They kiss and say they love each other.
Recommendation: The violence in the books may be too much for some readers. Many of the scenes weren’t as descriptive as they could have been but there are a few mentions of bloody wounds.
Spoiler: The scene where Coriko is stealing a child and kills the girl’s father is an emotionally distressing scene for the reader.
But, even with Coriko’s harsh and often times heart-wrenching reality, there’s always a hope for a better tomorrow. With that hope, I can better tolerate the violent scenes.
As well Pippa and Coriko’s relationship is beginning to blossom into young love. Their captors, the Spears, knew this would happen since they kept the children in pairs since they were captured. The author still keeps their budding relationship innocent even though they are maturing. They only kiss once in this book. After they are separated, the only thing that keeps Coriko going is the thought that he will be able to reunite with Pippa. I would recommend the book for ages 13 and up. See my review of Escape the Mask, Book 1 in the Grassland Trilogy also.