3 out of 4 stars
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The word dragon, in my perception, symbolizes evil, so I never select to read a book that features this mythic creature. However, Jan Anderegg’s Julu has softened my monolithic stance as her dragon has sapphire eyes, opalescent skin, and a golden heart. More than this Julu is a literary gem that celebrates and exposes a young generation of readers to timeless classical writers and composers like Emily Brontë, Loren Eiseley, Charles Dickens, and Beethoven to name a few of the literary giants whose narratives interweave the novel’s tapestry.
What would be the results if imagination ceases to exist? Anderegg's narrative explores this dilemma. Julu, the dragon, and the eponymous character is the main transport and guide of Jack and Mia; the leading protagonists. Both Jack, Mia, and their parents portal to enchanting and perilous worlds. One of these worlds is Jirvania, the idyllic land of fairies, talking squirrels, and flying Pegasus. It also contains Muse Mountain; the storehouse of creative works.
Horrid evil forces threaten to eradicate imagination everywhere including the euphoric life in Jirvania where humans, flora, fauna, and past characters of books are alive and they bond. To save Jirvania and the human imagination, Jack and Mia must discover their most important identities and figure out how they can transform the story to put an end to the destructive forces strategizing to control both worlds.
Julu is fascinating in its attempt to transmit a multi-layered experience of the reader's vicarious experience occurring simultaneously with the characters and animals of the narrative. In the land of Jirvania, stories come alive and thus Florence Nightingale is immediately recognizable when she tries to attend to Karyn who re-entered the portal nearly at the point of death on one of her trips from earth. I particularly appreciated the rich descriptions that made the story pulsate with life.
I disliked the wide array of characters who come in and out of the story. In addition, some characters are different persons, in different worlds, which necessitated a close reading and sometimes a re-reading to understand the transition that occurred. I found the many random movements into either the past or future somewhat farfetched, thus I sometimes slipped out from being totally absorbed in the narrative.
All elements considered, Anderegg’s story is mesmerizing in its action-packed plotline with protagonists that are recognizably human and fallible. Julu earns a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. Anderegg’s book reads as a well-edited narrative and any errors were far and wide. I highly recommend this treat to lovers of fantasy, adventure, and sci-fi narratives.
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