Thursday, October 25, 2012

Book Reviews: Freakling

Freakling
BY LANA KRUMWIEDE

AMAZON | GOODREADS


Publisher: Candlewick Press (October 9, 2012)
Length: 320 pages, Hardcover
Format: E-Arc
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian and Steampunk
Series: Yes, Book 1 of ?
Completed: October 2012
Challenges: 2012 Outdo Yourself Challenge, 2012 E-Book Challenge, 2012 YA/MG Fantasy Challenge, 2012 DAC Challenge, 2012 Read Dystopia

SUMMARY

Taemon lives in a magical city where every inhabitant wields the power of psi "the ability to move and manipulate objects with their minds" (Goodreads). After an altercating event with his evil-willed older brother, Taemon is left "psi-less".  At first he tries to hide his inadequacies, which only works for a little while. Once he's been found out, he's banished to a powerless colony. Once there, Taemon expects life will be nothing short of terrible.

Boy, was he ever sorely mistaken.  Taemon readily adapts to his new life, discovering working with his hands isn't nearly as unbearable as he imagined.  Soon he makes new friends, becomes a part of the community and eventually discovers this colony is harboring there own type of secrets.  In addition, a crazy, old woman claiming to be his Aunt, keeps babbling ridiculous information about his family. At first he blows it all off, truly believing she's nuts. She's very persistent, though and Taemon slowly starts piecing it all together.  When he finally decides he should start listening, she reveals to him that he may  possess more power than anyone could ever imagine.  Then, he makes a critical mistake, one which could endanger the lives of all the powerless people, not just the ones in his colony.  Taemon yearns to make everything right again, but will he be able to figure out a way to fix it equitably?  How can he find a solution encompassing the best interest for everyone involved?  Its a seriously tough decision, especially for one so young, will Taemon choose the right path?


BACKGROUND
From Goodreads: "Lana has tried psi many times, particularly when it comes to household chores, but she could never make it work. She does have a few mildly supernatural abilities, which include untying knots, peeling oranges, and winning at board games. Her perfect day would include reading, writing, swimming, cooking, telling jokes, spending time with family, and pie." Freakling is her debut novel and is part of a new series. Book two remains untitled, but is set to be released in 2013.


SETTING PACE AND STYLE

This particular story takes place in a magical world which could be in the past, present or future, in an isolated wilderness city, by the coast, called Deliverance. Deliverance is the home to only those who possess the special power of psi or psi wielders. Pacing was fairly fast. Writing is primarily geared towards the target audience.  Its simple, straightforward and to some could potentially be considered a bit "watered down". Despite this minor flaw, the story is imaginative, creative and very engaging. It should totally knock the socks off the middle grade fiction readers it was intended for. The story is told in a third person narrative generally through the eyes of the our twelve year old protagonist, Taemon.


CHARACTERS AND PLOT

Taemon, a twelve year old boy who loses his special power of psi after a horrific fight with his older brother Yens.  He's very intelligent with a special gift to "mind wander" outside his own body.  This ability causes problems every time he uses it - but he can't stop!

Yens is Taemon's older, evil, power hungry brother.  He's mean, cruel and selfish.  His only desire is to become the most powerful psi wielder in the city and assume the position of "The True Son".  He will stop at nothing to achieve this goal, even if it means hurting those closest to him. Sadly, he's easily manipulated and not very bright.

Moak is a friend of Taemon's who's psi powers are know to be very weak.  He and Taemon are drawn to each other when they invent a new way to play an old sports game psi ball.

Amma is strong, smart and reasons everything out.  She becomes a good friend to Taemon in the powerless colony, there is potential for much more between these two.  Together they team up to help right Taemon's wrong. She also has a few secrets up her sleeves.

PLOT: A young boy loses his special powers and is banished to a powerless community.  There he makes friends and fits in, but them makes a critical error which could potentially harm anyone who is powerless. After realizing this, the boy will do anything in his "power" to fix it.


RECOMMENDATION

Though young girls will appreciate the enchanting premise and plot, this book would be most suited for 10-13 year old boys looking for a magical adventure, an imaginative world and a main character who has strong moral values, but isn't afraid to live on the edge.  Its also the perfect story to introduce young readers to steampunk elements. Mostly, this book would be the perfect read-aloud classroom discussion book as it explores so pretty serious political issues around the use of magical powers.



PERSONAL NOTE

A mixture of dystopian, science fiction and a pinch of steampunk, Freakling blends it all together to form a thought provoking middle grade read which focuses on the dangers of unchecked power. The author  is inventive and displays promising creative concepts with world building, gadgetry, special powers and gaming. Action packed and adventure filled Freakling certainly possesses the strength to entertain even those who don't really enjoy reading.

Character names in this book were strange and different, none I had ever heard of before.  For me this may have seeped the teeniest bit of enjoyment out of the story, even though I realize this is pretty nit-picky, I still wanted to mention it. Mainly because I have NO IDEA how to pronounce the main characters first name. I just started calling him "Tee". For me this story was more plot driven than character driven.

This book explored some fairly complex morals and values centering around the use of supernatural powers like telekinesis, politics and the church.  The ideas were imaginative the only problem, the author seemed to only barley scratch the surface.  This is a book I felt is quite pigeon-holed just for the younger end of the target audience.  The main issue holding older age groups back from total enjoyment of the book would be the simplistic writing style.  The book holds so much more promise, I hope the writing gets richer in future installments.



RATING

This book is creative, imaginative and unusual.  Its hard to knock off any rings, but I'm deducting just one because the writing for me would have been even better if it were written in a slightly more sophisticated voice.
4 out of 5 Rings
(Entertaining - Looked Forward to Reading)



9 comments:

  1. This sounds really good and I really enjoyed your review. My favourite genres mixed into one book! Just hopped over to amazon to buy but the Kindle version is WAY to expensive!

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    Replies
    1. Well total bummer, I wouldn't pay over $10 for an ebook either. Hopefully, the price drops soon. I think you'd enjoy this one.

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  2. Your thoughts have made me even more excited to both read this myself and to try it on my boys!

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    Replies
    1. Awe, that makes me feel good. I think boys will like the special psi powers and mind wandering that Taemon has.

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  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by and checking it out. :-)

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  4. Hmm, well I prefer my MG books to come across as though they can be enjoyed by a wide audience, even if they are MG, so that's too bad. But I love how creative it sounds!

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  5. Ooh, this sounds great, though I am a bit worried about the narrow age group recommendation. Still, definitely interested in this one!

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    Replies
    1. I read and enjoyed it, just wish it were a little richer in the writing. The premise, plot and story line were well worth it though!

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