2 out of 4 stars
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For as long as he can remember, Danny Elikai has battled the darkness. His dreams have been haunted, causing him to deal with depression and doubt that he is destined to make it to the Realm of Light. When his parents and brother are killed in a car accident one summer, leaving him as the lone survivor, it becomes even more difficult for him to want to continue living. Then he moves to Grenoff, Wisconsin to live with his aunt and uncle, where he meets many people who make him feel like he might belong somewhere after all.
But a great war is coming that will determine the future of all of Creation. Phantonix, the Emperor of Destiny, is rising to challenge the King of Light and his philosophy of Free Will. And it appears that Danny is somehow right in the middle of it. He can heal himself and others and see into people’s hearts. He keeps having visions and vivid dreams of his dead brother and the realms of Light and Darkness. As Phantonix’s Crusaders begin to attack him and his loved ones, Danny will have to discover his role in the coming battle and rise to meet his responsibilities. The fate of Creation depends on it.
The Memoirs of Elikai: The Children of the Solstice by D. Alexander is the first in a trilogy. This young adult fantasy novel deals with the themes of good versus evil and free will versus destiny. The story has some parallels to the Christian ideas of Heaven and Hell, but I would not consider this Christian literature, and it can be enjoyed by people of any religion. The characters are mainly teenagers, and they struggle with many relatable feelings for this age group: inadequacy, loneliness, and fear of failure.
My favorite part of this book was the cleverly constructed plotline. The story was fast-paced and full of action. As Danny was meeting new people and learning about the coming war between Light and Darkness, there were so many little occurrences and clues sprinkled throughout the text that I didn’t realize the significance of until they came together at the end. I can tell the author put so much thought into the details of the story. The worldbuilding was also fantastic. Descriptions of Danny’s physical surroundings and his visions of the realms of Darkness and Light really conjured up beauty, horror, joy, and suffering.
Unfortunately, there were some issues with the writing style that dragged the book down. For one thing, I was often confused about what was going on. I felt like the author withheld too many details for big reveals later in the book. On one hand, it was appropriate because Danny also spent most of the book in the dark about what was going on, but it made the first half of the book difficult to slog through. There were also several confusing point of view changes. The book was mostly told from the first-person point of view of Danny, but there were times when the narration switched to another character. These changes were not announced and were also from the first-person perspective. I found myself having to read for a while to find out whose point of view I was getting and then having to reread the sections for clarity.
The other main complaint I had with the book is that the writing style lacked a certain sophistication. The book was filled with repetitive phrases and what felt like a continuous recitation of the characters’ emotions. Danny was constantly seeing and feeling others’ emotions in their eyes and faces. These issues were very distracting and interrupted the flow of the action. The book also contained several typographical errors that led me to believe the book wasn’t professionally edited.
Overall, I rate this book 2 out of 4 stars. I think the premise is creative and the book has a lot of promise. I would encourage the author to enlist the help of a professional editor to get the errors corrected and some of the writing polished up. Since this is a young adult novel, teens may not be as bothered by the writing style as I was, and I would recommend the book to lovers of young adult action stories. I will caution that the violence in this book is much more graphic than I would expect from a young adult book, so readers should be cognizant of that.
The Memoirs of Elikai
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