Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer CoverAdult urban fantasy marketed by the publisher as young adult fiction

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Reading Level:
Young Adult (17+)
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 352
Source: Amazon Vine
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

Samhain Corvus Lacroix (Sam) is a college dropout around 20 years old who works in a fast-food restaurant with his best friend Ramon. As far as Sam knows, he's an extremely ordinary guy, until the day he runs into Douglas, an evil necromancer, who tells Sam he is a necromancer, too. Douglas is determined to train Sam in the dark art of necromancy and develop what little innate ability Douglas thinks Sam has, but Sam has no desire to train with Douglas because he's a vicious jerk. Unfortunately for Sam, Douglas refuses to take, "No," for an answer. Sam soon learns the hard way that by continuing to resist Douglas and his minions, he is putting his friends and family at risk.

This story alternates between the points of view of Sam, Douglas, an 18-year-old shapeshifter named Brid who is Sam's love interest, and Sam's mother Tia, who is a witch. The story is well-written and engrossing, and the climax is tense and exciting. As urban fantasy goes, the magic is believably presented, the main characters and supporting cast are all strongly drawn and intriguing, and this looks to be a unique and engaging series.

I only have one complaint, and it is not directed toward the author, but the publisher. It is obviously a marketing decision to get on the young adult bandwagon that has driven the publisher to label this book young adult. But it is definitely not young adult fiction. This book is filled with adult themes, and all of the characters are adults, not high-school students, as is typical and expected for young adult fiction. In addition, the author spends a great deal of time in the points of view of two middle-aged characters, one of which is the totally evil villain--another indicator that this is not young adult fiction but rather written for adults.

It is possible that teens older than the target age for YA fiction of 12-15 might well enjoy this book, but in my opinion it is questionable that the age group it is being marketed to will find the point-of-view characters relatable.

Hero: 4

Subcharacters: 4

Fantasy World-Building: 4

Writing: 4

Action-Adventure Plot: 4

Overall: 4

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Book Review: The Dreamwalker’s Child by Steve Voake

The Dreamwalker's Child CoverFascinating YA Fantasy with a Science-Fiction Feel

The Dreamwalker’s Child by Steve Voake
Reading Level:
Young Adult
Release Date: April 4, 2006
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Pages: 320
Source: Library
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

Young teen Sam Palmer is a geeky recluse who is somewhat embarrassed by his obsession with insects. He's also amazed, and slightly freaked out, that his fascination seems to be reciprocal. Insects follow him everywhere. They never hurt him, though, until the day he sees a strange cloud of wasps, feels a sting on his neck, and blacks out. The next thing he knows, Sam is in a strange marsh in the middle of nowhere, in the dead of night, and the only living souls around him are a pack of slavering dog-like creatures out for his blood.

The action gets started in this book almost immediately, and it never stops. The story is told in alternating points of view of Sam, the leaders of two opposing militaries on the planet Sam has been swept to, and Sam's mother, who is the Dreamwalker of the book's title.

There are some truly hideous villains in this book, and Sam is knocked around brutally. He's a very strong protagonist, though, and so is the young girl who is sent to rescue him by the leader of the non-evil army. Skipper is a crack pilot of one of the most unusual flying "machines" you will ever read about in a fantasy.

There are a lot of insects in this book--the whole story is based around them. If you find the very thought of bugs repugnant, you might not enjoy this book. But since this book is primarily geared to adolescent boys, I don't think that will be a problem for them at all. I think they will love this book. The dynamic female character in the book will make it enjoyable for girls as well.

For parents: This book has no sex, drugs, or alcohol, and no bad language. It does, though, have a lot of violence. However, it is presented in such a way that I don't believe young teens will find the book overwhelmingly scary.

Hero: 5

Heroine: 5

Subcharacters: 5

Fantasy World-Building: 5

Writing: 5

Action-Adventure Plot: 5

Overall: 5