Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I hope to review one more book this week, and then on Friday I'm off to Calgary. More on that later! Right now, here's my lastest read and review, a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I would like to thank Netgalley.com and Centrinian Publishing Ltd. for the eARC this fantastic novel. The review is spoiler free!
Hardcover, 364 pages
Published May 20th 2012
by Centrinian Publishing LtdISBN 0957001908 (ISBN13: 9780957001909)
Population: Human ... 7 billion.
Others ... unknown.
When 14-year-old Charlie Blake wakes up sweating and gasping for air in the middle of the night, he knows it is happening again. This time he witnesses a brutal murder. He's afraid to tell anyone. No one would believe him ... because it was a dream. Just like the one he had four years ago - the day before his dad died.
Charlie doesn't know why this is happening. He would give anything to have an ordinary life. The problem: he doesn't belong in the world he knows as home.
He belongs with the others.
Summary from www.goodreads.com
I didn't like I like Talisman of El. At first. Suddenly this novel really came together for me in unexpected ways. I liked the originality of the fantasy world built by Stone, I liked how everything and everyone in the story becomes interconnected with the overall plot, I like the subtle humour, and I liked the characters.
The story started off a bit slow for me and for a while, I wondered where it was going. But then, it really picked up the pace and the plot began to really move forward. An interesting thing I noticed about this novel was that the plot was largely driven by dialogue. Once Charlie gets to Arcadia and meets the Arcadians, we start getting answers to a lot of questions about what is going on, what the talisman is, and why Charlie is so different from everyone else. It's not easy to drive forward a plot using largely dialogue, and it gave this novel a very different sort of feel. I felt like I was figuring it all out along with Charlie, thinking through all the information with him, and sometimes I was just as confused as Charlie because there always seemed to be more questions. Now, some readers might find that frustrating, but I found that it allowed me to get to know to Charlie better. So suddenly, this was one of the ways I found myself liking the book. It made me think a heck a lot of more than I thought it would.
Now, anyone who reads my reviews regularly knows that I'm all about character development. If I can get into characters, chances are I'm going to fall in love with the book. And at first, the development of these characters was so not working for me. Because Charlie and the rest of these characters are very subtly developed, and I found we largely know them by what they say, but it did take me some time to really get under their skin. Richmond, for instance, is a sweet boy, but his attention rather lacks focus. He thinks without speaking at times. But we get to know that because he does speak so much, and over time, what he says establishes his character more firmly than what he does. It's interesting to note that with Alex however, it's what she doesn't say, and her actions that establish her character. With her, it's all about what's left unsaid. With Charlie on the other hand, we get a fuller package of thoughts, feelings, emotions and so we know what motivates his actions. I was impressed that all of these characters, while subtly defined, are well defined.
Besides all the fantasy, exciting action, world building and character development, this novel also struck me as interesting because it was also a story about family, the family that we chose for ourselves. For Charlie, that is especially important, and I was very happy that in the end, he reconnects with everyone he has learned to care about and who shared the Arcadian adventure with him. Young readers will relate to the friendships in this novel, and I found that these relationships kept me invested in this read as much as my curiosity which was constantly whispering, "and now what's going to happen?"
The writing was clean, easy to read and the dialogue was especially well done. In some parts, the pacing was gripping, but at other times I found it a bit choppy, especially at breaking points. I would like to see a greater degree of control in terms of pacing for the next novel. I also wouldn't mind seeing the relationships deepen a bit more, now that the characters are all well developed.
A Talisman of El proved to be a great fantasy read and is a wonderful debut novel. Young readers will be gripped by the imagination and action, but ultimately will love it for the enduring friendships and themes.
4 glittering stars
4 glittering stars