2 out of 4 stars
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Shadow-Forge Revelations, written by Stephen J. Bauer, is the second book in a series called Andrew’s Adventures. Classified as a science-fiction/fantasy novel, it narrates the other-worldly, heroic adventures of a teenager named Andrew, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. In a note at the very beginning, Bauer expresses his hopes for the novel – to explore the purpose of existence from both a scientific and metaphysic perspective and to inspire us to pursue our dreams. Delightful intentions, aren't they?
The protagonist is a member of an elite group known as the Shadow-Forge, whose members have extraordinary abilities and can travel through space and time. In this capacity, Andrew spent a full lifetime being “a nimble ninja” on another planet – Glorthocks. Back on Earth, however, he is just a nervous, bullied, and “poorly socialized teenager” with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Andrew and his family are recruited to participate in a secret research program which involves a trip to the moon to study dark holes. A friend of Andrew’s – also a member of Shadow-Forge – tags along.
The story begins narrated in the third person, with an explanation of previous events and theories. Then Andrew, Stephen, and Sandi start taking turns as narrators. Although these shifts in perspective do give readers a better understanding of their thoughts and feelings, the transitions are too many, often abrupt, and end up detracting from the reading experience. The same event sometimes gets told by more than one character, which I found unnecessary and rather dull. Fewer and smoother transitions, as well as less repetition, would improve the plot’s cohesion and flow, in my opinion.
The science-fiction passages take up a good part of the book, and I thought they were a bit repetitive and tedious. I felt that the real strength of the story is the light-hearted, warm, and generous human spirit that underlies it. I enjoyed the references to philosophy and mythology. The protagonist and his parents – Stephen and Sandi – are very likable characters to whom I could easily relate. While the novel lacks an elaborate narrative, it does provide action and entertainment.
Lastly, I found many editing errors in the book. Due to these overwhelming mistakes and also to the overly fragmented narrative, I am taking two stars away from the rating. Therefore, I rate the book 2 out of 4 stars. I believe it will appeal to readers who enjoy young adult adventures with a touch of fantasy and science-fiction, provided that they don't mind the editing flaws.
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