4 out of 4 stars
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Good versus evil. That epic battle for all times is a common theme in literature. So the question you may ask yourself is, "Is there anything new under the sun?" In answer to that, let me tell you about a book I just finished reading called Grave Robbers.
Derek Hammond is a normal seventeen year old boy. His Uncle Lyle has just passed away, and his mother drags him to the funeral (although he'd rather be back in Utah at basketball practice.) Something odd happens to him at the funeral, though. It's a rainy, wet day, and Derek slips on the grass. More embarrassed than hurt, he starts to get up and inadvertently touches a grave stone. He immediately blacks out and is transported back in time. There he watches a young girl named Molly Whipple get hit by a car after roller skating into the street. When he wakes up, he finds himself back in his own time laying on top of a grave for Molly Whipple whose death dates are 1946-1955.
Derek eventually realizes that he's been given a gift. He is able to go back in time to see the death of the person whose grave he touches. He starts to wonder if there is more to it, though. Could he actually be able to stop that person from dying?
Grave Robbers is a young adult book that I would classify as supernatural fiction. It is written in third person perspective following Derek. It's a fast-paced story with plenty of action. The violence is handled delicately with little gore and no language making this book suitable for the teenage years.
I enjoyed the characterization in the novel. Derek is not perfect and has typical teenage struggles and the occasional tiff with his mother. This makes him more realistic. The secondary characters, like Derek's best friend Eddie, are also life-like. There is one scene in particular where we are really able to see into Eddie's daily life. The characters helped me to become invested in the story.
The overarching theme of the book is good versus evil, but there are themes that are significant for everyday life as well. For example, the author addresses bullying, depression and being aware of the struggle of others. One of the things that this book made me realize was that we have a duty to help those around us. We CAN make a difference. I thought that was pretty meaningful coming from a fictional story.
I found only a few minor snags in the story worth mentioning. The first was in Derek telling his mother about his new gift. His mother was not overly receptive, but she did agree to take him to a cemetery to see him in action. I found it a bit suspicious that she would even agree to take him to a cemetery. I find it more likely that she would immediately call a counselor when she found out her son believed he could transport to the moment of someone's death.
The second minor observation I had was on the spirituality of some of the passages. They seem to be a mix of Christianity and just plain spiritualism. I have no complaint with that as it is a fictional story. However, I thought a few of the passages were a bit deep for a young adult book. It seems that Ms. Allred is trying to make the book more realistic by explaining how and why Derek is special. I appreciate the explanation but just felt she went a bit far for a young adult book.
Despite the minor drawbacks, I immensely enjoyed this novel. There were a couple of chapters at the end for the next book in the series. I normally don't even bother reading those. This time? I couldn't help myself. I would very much enjoy reading Grave Robbers 2: The Battle of Angels as soon as it comes available! It is for these reasons that I rate Grave Robbers 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend this book to all who enjoy an action-packed, good versus evil, supernatural fiction with a message for everyday life.
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