2 out of 4 stars
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Emaji Nation: The Sparrow is the first fantasy novel in a series by Denna M. Davis. This story follows a high school student named Amanda who visits her grandmother for the summer and discovers she is destined to save a world she has never heard of before. When she goes to this world she learns of the prophecy of which she is the hero, the tragic history of the world, and the man she is said to be destined to marry, Solomon.
It did not take long for me to fall in love with Solomon and I waited impatiently for Amanda to do the same as I read. Solomon's presence in the story is the best part of the story. He is an extraordinarily well developed character who is a hopeless romantic. His love for Amanda and hope for the future of their relationship is pure and uplifting. He dreams of the day he will meet Amanda years prior to actually meeting her. I also love that he is often successful but not always. These aspects of his personality make him feel realistic, and like someone I want to meet.
The author successfully thought out every detail of Emajian culture and history, down to skin color and form of transportation. There is good and bad in this because creating a world from scratch is something that can only be completed well if held at a delicate balance. Readers need lots of information to visualize this new world, yet something must be left to the imagination of the reader. I did not feel that much was left to the imagination when reading The Sparrow. This did not take away from my enjoyment of the book, but it is something the author should try to improve in future fantasy novels.
The factor that really brought the story down was that it often felt hard to follow, especially in the early chapters because readers are expected to take in a lot of information very quickly. Most of the information about Emajian culture and history is spelt out very directly to readers as it is being explained to Amanda which is helpful, however it often feels that as soon as the reader understands one situation a new one comes up for them to learn about as well. While all of this new information is being thrown at readers they are also moving between perspectives each chapter. The story is interesting, but it often gets lost when readers desperately try to learn the context of the scene they are reading.
Overall, this book was good but not great though the storyline holds the potential for greatness. It deserves 2 out of 4 stars. This would do well with a middle school audience since they are just starting to appreciate the romantic aspects of stories and The Sparrow offers good, clean romance for them to read. It appears the author has great ideas, and the next book has great potential as well.
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