Character: So I have to admit a bias here. This is absolutely a YA book. With that said, there are some aspects of YA storytelling that I’m personally not a fan of, but fans of YA don’t mind at all. The biggest issue is the decision making and reactions of the characters. I liked this aspect least of all the parts of this book because it’s just hard to believe everyone would just roll with some of the things that happened in this story. I don’t find YA in general believable. Now, this is a personal bias of mine, and I want it known that this isn’t a break from what most YA does. I’d just appreciate the genre more if the characters didn’t just roll with the plot so easily. I’m most angry at the father in this story. I’m not blessed to be a father, but I’m an uncle, and there’s no way on earth I’d just roll with things the way this main character’s dad rolls with things. If you like YA, and you don’t mind this aspect, go for it because there are some very cool aspects to this book. While hard to believe, the characters are indeed proactive. I wouldn’t exactly call them sympathetic, but I’l give mad props to Gordon. He’s the character I was most drawn to, but he has the least air time. Why read a book outside of your genre? Because you have to stretch. I admit my bias in this review because I can not like rap music but still appreciate what it does well. My distaste for the genre in general doesn’t erase my ability to give credit to what the author does well.
World building: Bonus points for Rae here. You see, she and I are both from Yuma, Arizona! Why does that matter? The book is set in Yuma. Now I have to deduct a point because I’m a Criminal, and she sets the scene closer to Cibola High School. (At least it wasn’t Kofa.) I know…that doesn’t mean much to you dear readers, but imagine a book set in your hometown? Wouldn’t you geek out? I did. Oh…That reminds me, I discovered this book while home on leave. I met Miss. Rae at a local bookstore and bought her book (with an autograph of course). So she has my support! Now that the home town angle is sufficiently covered, the world building is interesting. The idea the our world and a magical world goes back to the days of Lewis. What I like is the explanation for this, and how that explanation drives the plot by providing conflict. I’d hope that future books explain more of how the source of the portal came to exist, but that’s what series do. The magic system is fairly soft right now. But I’m okay with that because magic is more of a source of strife and conflict than plot resolution.
Description: This is solid. It’s not vivid or entrancing, but it’s not overly vague. I probably could have used a bit more detail here and there, but I’m way more glad I didn’t get a description of every blade of grass or article of clothing. The characters are visually stronger in my mind than most settings (though the location of the final conflict is pretty clear to me).
Thanks for reading,