(I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)
Banshee at the Gate:
2 to 2.5*
+ Interesting in terms of mythological content, especially as banshees aren't so often featured.
+ Nice and heart-warming relationship between Seven and Haran, and fun dynamics between them and their allies.
+ No stupid love interest out of nowhere, for a change. This is meant to be adventure, and adventure we get.
- Confusing in how Atlantis was tackled in the beginning, presented as something obvious all the characters know about; I felt like there was a previous story I had missed. Perhaps I did.
- Villains too easy to get rid of in my opinion. Coming into banshee powers too easy as well.
- Plot sometimes a bit silly.
>> So far this reads definitely more like children/middle grade than truly young adult—I wouldn't recommend it to readers above 12-13 (Seven, the protagonist, is 13, too).
Guardians of the Gate:
+ Merfolk with a strong backstory of friendship and loyalty. Again, no useless romance.
+ Wily Leprechaun and good lessons about "careful what you wish for (and how you wish for it)".
+ More info about the other ancient races (Giants, Dragons).
+ Ties into the first book.
- Plot dragged in parts and I found myself skimming at times.
- Adults shown as idiots who can't/won't do anything to help, which is too often the case in books, and isn't believable.
- Lack of consequences (shouldn't the villains try to act against the young heroes by now?).
- Some more ties with the first book would've been appreciated, especially at the end of this one.
>> Confirming this is definitely for kids, and not YA.
Secrets of the Mine:
2.5 to 3*
+ The kelpie. I liked reading about him.
+ Archaeology and finding forgotten civilisations.
+ Antagonistic characters that learn to cooperate.
- Slightly annoying characters (childish instant dislike).
- The writing wasn't too exciting.
Magicians of the Deep:
+ Learning more about Indiatlantis.
+ The way magical creatures are actually affected by the portals closing one after the other.
- Seems to be for an even younger target audience.
- Too much telling.
- More pronounced than in Book 2: how much Atlantis is like our (Anglo-Saxon) world: school, malls... Why couldn't it be more different, as mysterious as it's supposed to be?
- Repetitive crossovers with book 2.
- Callous characters (the Laytons seem like a nice enough family, at least the parents, but Colin just doesn't seem to care? Also what he learns about his family later was dropped like a brick.
- This particular book jumped from one thing to the other (for instance, discussing an important matter, then suddenly, "anyway, let's go to the mall"). It reminded me of how I'd sometimes play when I was younger, but in terms of plot and writing, it didn't sit well at all with me. To be honest, I'm really not sure I would've liked reading this as a kid.
Madness behind the throne:
3.5*, possibly 4*
+ More mature characters, possibly because Callidora is an adult, but also because Phoibos even as a child kinds of grows up fast.
+ Political intrigue that is easy to understand for younger readers.
+ The stakes do seem more dangerous here than in the previous books
+ Though the "bad guy" has no excuses, we're also shown what contributed to shape his vision/madness.
+ Atlantis shown as technologically advanced (computers in the age of Plato), while still being different—more magic, less malls and 20th-century-like American names.
+ Hints about who Phoibos really is
- ...Though they make it fairly obvious to guess what his secret is (or not? We'll see...)
- A few of the adult characters (the king, Lisandra) are somewhat childish.
- The relationship between Callidora and Titanos progressed so fast (although Calli does acknowledge that she doesn't know herself why that was, and that it didn't make sense).
- Atlantian years being 100 human years, reconciling both was a bit hard (considering what happened in the previous books, it feels like Phoibos took his sweet time to get to closing the doors, when it was described first as it happening within a mere few days).
>> So far, definitely the one I preferred in the series, because it deals with more political themes and shows more of the other side of the conflict, all this in a way that is easy to grasp by middle-grade readers without being dumbed down.
Battle for Acropolis:
+ Everything comes together and without a repeat this time, since it's the direct follow-up to previous books' events.
+ Hattie was adorable.
+ Surprises that were predictable, but in a good way (you know they're coming, yet you're happy to see them coming, and happy when they're finally here). The "finding the grandma" part definitely made me smile: expected, but cute.
- Some characters got discarded pretty quickly, and didn't feel as regretted as they should've been.
- Villain decay at the end—not as epic an ending as I had expected.
>> Enjoyable throughout, although the finale felt somewhat flat.
2.5/3 stars overall. It was OK for me as a light reading (2/2.5 stars), but I think a middle-grade audience would enjoy it more, hence my higher rating in the end—after all, I'm not really the targetted readership.
On the plus side, the relationships between the characters in general rang true. The creatures that appear in the novels are a good introduction to mythology in general, even if other series dive into this more deeply (Percy Jackson, for instance): Irish (banshees), mermaids, dragons, nymphs...
On the downside, Atlantis itself often felt too much like your average contemporary setting (high school, mall, etc.). Not saying I wanted to see only guys in togas living like in Grecian antiquity—and this setting makes it easy for kids to find their marks—but I expected something more different, not a copy of our modern world (I'm positive young readers wouldn't mind, and wouldn't have a hard time to embrace it either).