Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Review: Sentinel

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Sentinel, by Joshua Winning

Kyra's Star Ratings:
Characters: * * * * *
Story: * * * * *
Writing: * * * * *
Emotional Engagement: * * * * *

(I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of giving an honest review.)

"Sentinel" is the story of a fifteen-year-old boy, Nicholas Hallow, who, when his world falls apart, learns that he has abilities and a heritage that he never dreamed of. Evil beings who were long held at bay by the Sentinels have begun to gain a foothold in our world, and Nicholas finds himself the object of the stuggle between the Sentinels and the servants of the Dark Prophets.

This book grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go till the end. The sense of menace never lets up - even when Nicholas finds refuge, the danger is still out there, waiting. The descriptions of a world where evil is gaining power are chilling, as are the antagonists themselves. The characters are vividly drawn, and I found myself loving the good guys (and girls) and loving to hate the baddies. The book is also emotionally gripping - I felt the highs, lows, fear, relief, and shock right along with the characters.

"Sentinel" is described as "dark YA fantasy," but it hits that sweet spot of having a teen protagonist and being appropriate for/interesting to teens, while also being written with a deeper, more sophisticated adult voice and outlook and featuring some adult point-of-view characters. I'm not a big YA reader, preferring adult characters and an adult voice, but I found myself deeply engaged in and satisfied with reading "Sentinel." Besides being a good example of YA-adult crossover, I think this book would appeal very much to teen boys who enjoyed the Harry Potter books.

It isn't perfect; there are a few bits of the story that didn't quite hang together for me, though it never lost my attention, and the author occasionally uses words to attribute dialogue that don't really work as substitutes for "said." There's also a technical editing glitch (looks like a search-and-replace mistake) that I brought to the author's attention and will be corrected soon if it hasn't been already.

Other than those tiny nitpicks, I thought "Sentinel" was fantastic, and enjoyed it immensely. (Plus it gives a whole new meaning to the term "crazy cat lady"!) I highly recommend it, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

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