2 out of 4 stars
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Fearsome Destiny by Joseph Amiel is a young adult novel that incorporates American history in a fun, unique way. It is classified as science fiction, but I would type it more as fantastic historical fiction. And while that may dissuade hardcore sci-fi fans from reading this book, young adult readers may not mind.
The main character is a young man named Gallin, a high school student who is more comfortable staying to himself than engaging with peers. His self-isolation causes his classmates and the staff at the school to underestimate him, perceiving him as a failure. In fact, Gallin is incredibly bright and, among other things, is investigating faint sounds coming to Earth from space.
His guardian, Juliana, has been murdered, and Gallin discovers the killer is now after him. During their town’s Revolutionary War festival, this assassin traps both Gallin and his fellow ward, Alexine, planning to kill them both. To escape, the teen relies on a tiny box that Juliana had told him would deliver them from a dire threat. Not knowing what to expect, the pair press the button and wake up in what they think is a much larger reenactment with people they don't recognize. What they come to discover will change everything they have believed about themselves.
I found myself invested in Gallin, interested in what was going to happen to him. On the contrary, though Alexine was his partner in the plot, she was much less developed, and I found her decisions often unsupported by her personality design. In another vein, I did enjoy the interactions of the pair with heroes of the American Revolution. The author introduces readers to such historical figures as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. These interactions were well written, and many were humorous.
The plot was not always predictable, even though it relies on some familiar devices. It ends with "To Be Continued," so the author left some questions unanswered. Still, the book did seem to wrap up nicely and could be read as a standalone novel. But while it is mostly a fun read, several plot points don't play out. In one instance, a character plans to start a slave uprising in order to change the focus of the Revolutionary War. However, a few pages later, he has instead freed several slaves and taken them away from the war altogether. No explanation is given about his change of mind, which turns the actions of the plot. Instances like this made me feel the story needed a little cleanup.
After weighing the many pros and cons, I give Fearsome Destiny 2 out of 4 stars. I am taking one of the stars for editing issues. Although the book is not saturated with errors, there are enough to be distracting. I highly recommend another round of editing for this book. For instance, there are several places where paragraphs end in the middle of sentences and skip to the next line after indentation. There are also missing words, punctuation errors, and at least one place where the wrong character's name is used. I am taking the other star because, although the plot is good, it isn't great. As stated above, characters and plot points could do with sharpening. Additionally, much of the storyline involves the plans and actions of a deathmatch, an idea I don't find appealing in a young adult novel.
I did like that there is very little profanity in this book. Additionally, there is some violence, but no gore; there are no sexual situations, but some innuendo and allusions to affairs. I would recommend this story to older youth interested in the American Revolution and looking for an easy read. Readers looking for a strong plot or actual science fiction will not get what they want from this book.
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