Review of The Cocoon Within

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Josephe-Anne
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Review of The Cocoon Within

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[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Cocoon Within" by Liisa Sabah.]
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5 out of 5 stars
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Reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and even Alice in Wonderland, a classic battle of good vs evil unfolds in The Cocoon Within by Liisa Sabah. Raised by her grandfather after the death of her parents, Ariana is otherwise an average teenage girl. She goes to school, she has a part-time job, and she has a best friend, named Jack. She has even decided what she will do when she graduates, but everything changes when she finds a mysterious book in her attic. Ariana starts seeing strange creatures, and then she learns that there is more to her new dog, Leo, than meets the eye. Soon enough, she finds herself in a fantastical new world. With loyal friends by her side, she discovers that she is the Chosen One, who must save the universe as we know it. Using her newfound powers, will Ariana be able to fulfill her destiny?

The cover art is dominated by a magnificent, multicolored lion. Standing on top of a giant open book, a young red-haired woman faces the large cat. The book’s title is printed in an orange font, whereas the author’s name is written in white. These colors complement the image and stand out on the black background. The book is divided into ten lengthy chapters, and the themes include fantasy, adventure, action, friendship, and a bit of romance. Squeamish readers should note that there are some gory, violent scenes as well as a few stomach-churning descriptions involving insects. Self-harm is briefly described. Sexual acts are implied, and there is one instance where borderline profanity is used. There is no overtly religious content.

As the main protagonist, Ariana is caring and courageous, but like all true heroes, she has some weaknesses. At times, her mind is filled with doubt and guilt because she blames herself when things go wrong. Ariana’s best friend, Jack, is the handsome and chivalrous class clown. He has always been there for Ariana since they were little, but then they start to see each other in a different light, and they wonder if they could become more than friends. Jessica is the popular girl at school. Adopted by a wealthy couple, she flaunts her beauty and basks in the attention she gets from the boys. Jessica and Ariana form an unlikely bond once they end up working together on a science project, and then they start battling evil creatures as a team. Pippy is a feisty, fairy-like being from the magical land of Elopia. Her bravery and sass earn her a special place in Ariana’s heart. Last, but not least, Leo first appears to Ariana as a dog. Then he reveals himself as a shape-shifter from another realm. He protects Ariana and guides her with his wisdom.

I like the fact that this is a female-led story. I appreciated the depth of the characters and their backstories. As I mentioned before, this novel reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ famous series. Not only does this book have a talking lion in it, but the story gives the impression of a Christian allegory because it contains not-so-subtle biblical references. The evil Destroyer (who Ariana must defeat) symbolizes Satan and the Mighty One (for whom the protagonists fight) presumably represents God.

However, this tale contains several stereotypical elements that are often overused in literature. These elements include orphans who have magic powers and save the world, characters with ancestry they didn’t know about, and an epic quest to find powerful relics that will help the good guys defeat the enemy. Also, other than the fact that they are about to graduate and they can drive, Ariana, Jack, and Jessica act rather childish for seventeen-year-olds. They act more like twelve or thirteen-year-olds. Most teens their age aren’t so innocent, so that makes the story less believable.

Nevertheless, this was an entertaining young adult novel in the fantasy genre. Therefore, I am pleased to award The Cocoon Within by Liisa Sabah a rating of five out of five stars. I chose not to reduce my rating because the criticisms I mentioned where not significant enough to detract from the overall story. I recommend this well-written tale to teenagers and adults who enjoy fantasy fiction. The cliffhanger ending leads me to believe that this book could be the start of a series, so I look forward to reading more of Ariana’s adventures.

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The Cocoon Within
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