“Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” by D. L. Reynolds follows an epic fight against evil in anREVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS.
“Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” by D. L. Reynolds follows an epic fight against evil in an action-packed, fast-paced, fantasy novel. Darla Jade is called from the grave by Striker and sent to heaven to train in the Heaven Sent Academy to become a guardian angel. Among the other souls called up at the same time is Johnny who is sent to help. Darla finds a group of friends – they call themselves 'the guardians' – with whom she makes a pact to fight against evil. Meanwhile, hell is unbearable, and Johnny is determined to find a way to bring evil's wrath and destruction to earth in order to escape hell. The guardians must save the world from Johnny and Brimstone; otherwise, the balance will be turned to evil and the world will be overcome.
Reynolds painted a clear world. From descriptions of Striker’s (somewhat like the grim reaper) bony hands, or the sullen countenance to the keeper of the feather’s many years of work and struggle to hold the feathers, or the enjoyable class Leonardo DaVinci taught on restoring the earth, I was given a clear understanding and picture of the scene. Fortunately, the descriptions were not heavy handed nor did they leave the book full of pages of endless descriptions; the descriptions were often fit into dialogue or actions scenes, keeping the book fast-paced.
The plot was well developed and set up. Many times, small pieces of information, often hidden (just like the descriptions) in more exciting scenes, came back later to carry along an unexpected twist in the plot. “Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” as the first book in a series, left many loose strings for the next book, yet still managed to feel like a complete story, enjoyable without book two on the nightstand.
I do have one minor issue with the book. As a Christian, when this book presented certain beliefs which I disagreed with as ‘Christian,’ I felt misrepresented. My biggest concerns were twofold.
First, God was presented as a CEO trying to maintain the “balance” of good and evil according to certain laws, but largely removed from the gritty details. I believe in a God more kingly, glorious, good, and all-powerful, whose plans are for redemption, not just maintenance of a balance. In fact, the balancing concept felt more Jedi or yin-yang than Christian.
Second, I felt that the book present a works-based reality – you go to heaven (or hell) based on good (or bad) deeds. In heaven, success depends upon good grades and good behavior (the more demerits, the less capable of fulfilling duties). I believe the all-powerful God has, in mercy, provided us a way to become our god-created, perfect selves without counting good deeds and thusly producing a “nice and naughty list.”
Any other beliefs I would have disagreed with weren’t large enough to really bother me, and I saw how they added to the world and plot. Although I had some disagreements with the beliefs, I would still recommend the book – with a warning that I didn’t necessarily agree with everything – just as I would a book set in another religious system.
“Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe” by D. L. Reynolds is an enjoyable epic tale. I would recommend book one of the Guardians series to most middle and high school students, particularly those who enjoy books pitting good against evil, with strong action....more
The end of 2012 indeed brought the end of the world as we know it in “The Aftermath” by Sara Michelle. FREVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS.
The end of 2012 indeed brought the end of the world as we know it in “The Aftermath” by Sara Michelle. Few survivors are left following the terrible disaster; roads are torn up, houses decrepit, food and water are in short supply, and those left are struggling to survive.
Cecilia lost all her family and friends except her boyfriend Ryan, and it is lucky they have each other: their chances of survival alone are slim. It has now been a week since the end, and Cecilia and Ryan are looking for help as they begin to starve. They are hoping to find help at the local snow shelter – still a couple days’ walking away – but if this attempt doesn’t work out their prospects look grim. “The Aftermath” is the first book in a trilogy. It follows Cecilia and Ryan’s search for the snow shelter, and leaves us hanging at the end, ready for the next step in their journey.
I often felt that “The Aftermath” would have been benefited by more descriptions. Perhaps questions about Cecilia’s old normal (what did it look like, where does she live, what does she do for fun) or her new normal (how it came about, what caused the destruction, what happened and how it played out) would flesh out the characters and story. I can see a case, however, for this, book one, setting up questions for the next book - in which case, I am intrigued.
I read an Advanced Uncorrected Galley, and it must be mentioned that there were many grammatical and structural errors. However, these were not inductive of poor writing, so much as a lack of editing. As a bit of a grammar Nazi – one of my favorite books is “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” by Lynne Truss – these errors left me disgruntled. However, on a second read through the book, I found the story itself much more enjoyable. I am sure that these errors will be fixed by final publication, and the book itself is good in spite of any problems.
Although “The Aftermath” isn't a game changer or likely to win many prestigious literary awards, it is a solid first release for author Sara Michelle, who shows lots of potential. I would recommend this book to fans of “Twilight” and readers looking for a quick, light-hearted, action, sci-fi and romance....more
“The Dragonfly Prophecy” by Jacquelyn Castle is narrated by Lexi, a 17-year-old with a perfect life. LexREVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON READER VIEWS KIDS.
“The Dragonfly Prophecy” by Jacquelyn Castle is narrated by Lexi, a 17-year-old with a perfect life. Lexi is highly intelligent, has loving, caring parents who (mostly) don’t smother her, and she is dating handsome, rich, British William who is taking Lexi and her parents on a surprise getaway to a tropical island. Well, Lexi’s life is perfect apart from her frequent – and worsening – fainting spells, her horrendous dreams of dragonflies, and now she’s hearing voices.
Then, perfect turns on its end. She gets stuck in a fainting spell. While coming in and out of her coma, she hears William and her mom and dad discussing “finding the right person” and yelling, with worry in their voices. Next thing she knows, she’s awake and nobody remembers William and she supposedly doesn’t remember the accident.
“The Dragonfly Prophecy” involves super powers (yes, super powers as in flying, and shooting lasers, and invisibility, and teleportation, and fighting), dual worlds (not parallel exactly, but co-existent), romance, and mystery. Castle has crafted a believable and creative universe for her story to take place in.
The plot was entirely unpredictable. The only thing I successfully predicted was the happy ending, but I had no idea, throughout the entire novel how that would happen, or, for a large part, what it would look like. The plot was intricate, well-crafted, and compelling. Castle kept twists coming that kept me reading far too late into the night. The ending was maybe a little quick, and I didn't feel that the Evangeline subplot was fleshed out, but these are minor irritants in a largely well-done book. The largest fault I found was that the romance often irritated me – particularly with William – as the plot progressed. However, I am often cynical and unromantic, so that dig might just be me.
Overall, “The Dragonfly Prophecy” was a well-written book with good characters, a multi-layered world and plot, and good writing. I would recommend “The Dragonfly Prophecy” to anyone looking for an original and well-done fantasy novel....more