3 out of 4 stars
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Alister, Shelley, and Bernie have been friends ever since they can remember. This year Alister is turning thirteen, with Shelley and Bernie's birthdays not too long after. On the day before his birthday, Alister has an inhuman growth spurt and can't fit into any of his clothes; by the end of the day, even his dad's clothes won't fit him. Shelley and Bernie are stumped as to what's happening, but as all true friends should, they help him through this awkward phase. Being no ordinary growth spurt, Alister discovers he has an extraordinary birthright and must come to terms with his new nature.
Awakening by Brett Humphrey is a young adult fantasy novel. The author wrote it "to create books parents will want to read to their children, hopefully using different voices for the characters." Has he succeeded?
The story is told from the first person point of view following Alister. The friendship between the three protagonists was beautiful and may have been my favorite part of the book. They act like siblings with spats about who is the best and even have wrestling matches.
The world the author crafted is detailed and fascinating. It includes shapeshifters, mythical creatures, interdimentional travel, and magic. However, it's not so complex that younger audiences would be confused. One particular item I found captivating was called a "thought medallion." Among other things, these aided the person wearing them in communicating with those that didn't speak the same language.
In addition, I was appreciative of the life lessons that the author included. These were sprinkled in where kids won't even know they are being taught about life and leadership. Among other lessons, we learn: "Serve by protecting those who can’t protect themselves."
Being the first in the series, there is quite a bit of backstory in this novel. While I was still entertained enough that I wanted to continue reading, the first half of the book was much slower moving than the second. In order to give this history, there's a leisurely development that occurs, so some children might not have the attention span necessary to finish the novel. Also, while there was no profanity, there were instances of hunting and violence that might not be appropriate for more sensitive children. "I tore great chunks of meat off the elk and finished it in three bites."
The only true drawback in the book was the editing. I found more than ten errors. Mostly these consisted of extra or incorrect words which weren't too bothersome.
Even with the slower beginning, I rate Awakening 3 out of 4 stars due to the lack of proofreading. I recommend the story to 8 to 12 year olds along with their parents, especially those that enjoy fantasy adventures, as I believe Mr. Humphrey has accomplished what he set out to do. I can't wait to see what happens to Alister, Shelley, and Bernie in the next book.
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