My rating: ★★☆☆☆
The Rescue is more of the same–some more secrets are revealed, the plot slowly progresses, and jarringly enough, the prejudice fail gets worse.
Mrs. Plithiver was a terribly offensive and tragic character in the first two books. In the Ga’Hoole world, blind snakes are kidnapped and enslaved by their white owl “masters” (Lasky’s word, not mine). They rant about how most birds are disgusting, worthless, and ignorant creatures while they blindly revere whites owls.
Now, Octavia the Kielian snake has arrived to one-up her. Octavia wasn’t kidnapped to be a thinly-veiled mammy character, she was kidnapped to be a child soldier. By the protagonist’s mentor. Who is a war hero turned pacifist and revered by all the other characters. And this enslavement is never implied to be anything but acceptable. Ezylryb literally buys Octavia from her parents, and no one thinks there’s anything wrong with this!
So why is it, then, that St. Aggie’s is the root of all evil for cultivating child soldiers, while the protagonists are heroic and noble when they do the same damn things to the snakes!?
But don’t worry, because it gets even more hypocritical than that with the arrival of the Big Bad of the series, Nyra and Metal Beak’s “Pure Ones”. The Pure Ones believe that Tyto owls are superior to all species, and that Tyto Alba owls are superior to even other Tytos. Obviously, the Pure Ones are evil, evil monsters.
Wait, wait, wait. Everybody back up a second. Why is it that when the protagonists discriminate against other species, it’s just part of being an owl, but when the Pure Ones discriminate between owl species, it’s reprehensible and must be stopped at all costs? What the hell is happening here?
I just don’t get this series. The bare bones of the idea (anthropomorphic owl civilization, like a bird version of Warrior Cats) isn’t bad, but the actual plot is an exercise in hypocrisy. There’s nothing wrong with the idea of a group of owls fighting thinly-veiled owl Nazis. But there’s definitely a lot wrong with a group of owls fighting prejudice… all while engaging in it.
I’m almost inclined to take this as a straight-up WW2 allegory, with the Pure Ones being Nazis, St. Aggie’s being communists, the Guardians being the Allies, and the snakes being Pre-Civil Rights Movement blacks. It’s not a particularly good justification for the hypocritical prejudices of the main characters, but at least it’s a little more clever and deep than the characters just being assholes.
Unfortunately, all traces of any such allegory are gone before the series is even half over, so… Nope. Still fail.