WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS A LIE?
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.
Okay. So. This book. It was different. Not in a bad way, mind you; it was just different.
Charlie Blake, fourteen year old orphan, is sent to yet another potential adoptive family. He’s hopeful, but so many possible adoptions have fallen apart that he’s always thinking he’s going to be sent back. This time he’s sent to live with a single guy named Jacob, whose late wife died in an accident that raised eyebrows throughout the village (she broke her neck). At first Jacob’s the nice quiet type. And then Charlie discovers something hidden in the house and we find out that Jacob is a total psycho nutjob.
I know, right? Just when things were starting to look up. I mean, he makes friends at his new school and discovers a guy who looks like he’s 102 but is really only 27.
Okay, wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.
The story actually starts with Derkein Odessa (the 27 year old ancient dude) and his father in the U.S. Derkein’s father is talking about going back to find the entrance to Arcadia, which is supposedly an underground world. Not underground as in people live in caves or tunnels, but a whole realm/land/world hidden somewhere close to the middle of the inside of the planet. Like Journey to the Center of the Earth. Or Ice Age 3.
Naturally, Derkein thinks his dad’s off his rocker. Until invisible people show up, try to kill him, and kidnap his father. He lives because of the talisman (the eponymous Talisman of El), who unfortunately ages him and teleports him to England, where he is discovered by Charlie et. al. (lucky, that).
Derkein saves Charlie and his friends from raging psycho Jacob, and they all decide to go find Arcadia together. Lucky for them, Charlie has this strange gift of…knowing. And having visions. And prophetic dreams. So, you know, finding Arcadia ends up not being as difficult as they once thought it would be.
And lo and behold, Arcadia does exist. And it’s populated by angels (also known as aeons, guardians, or lightworkers). And the talisman? Yeah, it’s El’s. (Yes, THAT El.) So it’s about the most powerful thing on the planet.
Which means, of course, that the bad guys want it. Bad guys being demons (also known as archons). (It is a book about angels, after all.)
And surprise! Charlie’s the avatar of the now-dead Ruler of the Earth Kingdom, Sol, who is a powerful angel but isn’t an archangel and who isn’t God.
Wait, what? I always equated Sol with the sun (“sol” is the Latin name, hence solar). And “archon” is a Greek word for “ruler” or “lord.” So seriously, at first I kept seeing the sun as a ruler of the Earth kingdom, and a bunch of Ancient Greek lords as demons. Which I guess kinda fits, when you think about it.
Anyway, Charlie’s told that it’s his
job destiny to keep the talisman away from the demon king’s hands, thereby saving the world from the apocalypse. (No pressure.)
WHAT I LIKED:
Overall, I liked the book. I thought it was a slightly different take on the whole angels vs demons trope, and I was ridiculously happy none of the angels were beautiful, angsty teenagers who were all-powerful but didn’t know their own power. (They were all beautiful, though. What is it with beautiful non-human beings?)
I also thought that the characters were interesting, the plot was interesting, and the book was fairly well paced.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
There were some punctuation issues that tripped me up a bit here and there. Every now and again the sentence structure or the phrasing made me pause and re-read, but nothing major. Overall, there were no problems with the writing.
The only other thing that was a bit of a downer to me is that the book just didn’t cling to me afterward. By this I mean that after I finished the book and put it down, I didn’t dwell on it. I didn’t think about what Charlie would do next, and I wasn’t pouty that the book was done. (But that’s not to say I didn’t like it.)
I actually liked the book. I think fans of YA fantasy would like it, and I think they should give it a try. It’s not Harry Potter–there are no wizards in sight, but neither is it Twilight–there isn’t a single vampire or werewolf in this thing. Also, I liked Charlie. He just had this air of bewildered innocence about him (along with a healthy aura of WTF-what-the-hell-is-happening-to-me) that I found rather endearing.
If you like YA and/or YA fantasy, give this book a try. Bonus: it’s a trilogy so there are more stories of Charlie coming our way in the near future.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5