Firstly, I would like to mention that this was a cool experience... knowing that I was among the first to read a book - there's a little bit of a rush in that experience. Not like a bungee-jumping rush maybe, but a rush all the same - and for this non-death-defying-stay-at-home mom... that was just perfect.
Second I must mention that even though the book was delivered with an "uncorrected proof" disclaimer (meaning that there were bound to be typos) there were surprisingly few! I actually hesitated to participate because I have some serious pet peeves regarding bad editing but there were fewer errors in this pre-edited edition than in some nicely bound hardcovers that I've paid top dollar for! As some of you may know I really have issues and have been known to correct signs in a grocery store with my own pen (no, I'm not kidding).
Third... I've broken my own rule on this book. Some of you may have heard me mention my stipulation on reading new books by new authors (especially in the sci-fi or fantasy genre), it has something to do with unpronounceable names... my first foray into the fantasy genre (many MANY years ago) was a huge disappointment where the author had spent far more time coming up with colorful and bizarre names for their characters than they had spent fleshing out the actual story line... big bust. Gladly - this is not the case with this book (but there are a few weird names).
The Big Question: Did I enjoy the book? Yes! I had a lot of fun reading this one - it was refreshing to have a truly new kind of Hero to begin with... one that made me stop and think about quick judgments that we so often make... does a Hero have to be handsome? Does he have to be strong? Does he have to be funny? Does he have to be popular? Does he have to have a love interest? Does he have to be a HE? I enjoy this new Hero (Marcus) and have great hopes for him in the coming novels... hoping that he'll retain some of his imperfections (not necessarily the obvious ones - but maybe his skewed sense of humor) that make him so unique. I also enjoyed our Heroine (Kyja - see, I told you there were some weird names) because I think she fills in the gaps that exist in Marcus's personality... she "completes" him - in a totally non-romantic sense of the word. Each has their own disabilities and strengths, and they are not defined by their disabilities nearly as much as they are defined by their strengths.
There is a lot of promise in this Farworld place - more areas to explore... more connections to our world I hope? I'm anxious to meet some of the other elementals (for this to be explained you will just have to read this book) and see about their own limitations, as the denizens of the Water Keep seem to have learned a great lesson from a few mere mortals.
The book does follow a little formula that you'll probably recognize - Slightly weird orphan discovers something new about themselves, it changes the course of their lives, they meet with extreme dangers and make good friends, they succeed but still have more to do (because where else would the series go?). Whether that brought to mind Star Wars, Harry Potter, Wizard of Oz or whatever - there it is... I don't say this as a criticism however because - hey, it's worked and it isn't all the same -- I don't know anybody who just skipped reading HP7 because "hey, I saw StarWars already.".
One of the things I enjoyed the most is that although there is a lot of back-story and exposition necessary to get the reader up to speed, it is done without the traditional boredom which makes me want to do a quick speed read and get back to the action... the back story is all about action!
Do I recommend it to you? To the kids? Yes, to both - I don't hesitate to have the kiddies reading it because the bad guys are bad... and the good guys are good - and there is a wonderful lesson to be learned about those people who sit back and claim to be neutral all the while furthering the cause of the bad... there is no Switzerland in Farworld anymore than there can be in our own lives - a choice must be made.
I went ahead and let my 13 year old read it already - and in typical teenager fashion he shrugs a lot, refuses to add any wonderful questions to my author Q&A... but I did get out of him that he will be planning to read any further installments of this series. For the record, my 11 year old wants to read it but would like to wait for the series to be finished first... He nearly got an ulcer waiting on Harry/Gregor/Percy and others...
So that's it - other reviews are out there on this blog tour with more information about the plot - I chose not to give you a detailed synopsis because hey, you're supposed to read it right? be sure to put a nice wordy comment at the post below if you want a chance at the free Advance Copy - I'll post next week about our winner!