Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursentary: Rise of the Shadow Stealers by Daniel Ingram-Brown

via Goodreads

Let me tell you a little story. I was younger. Not by a lot, but younger. I enjoyed speaking to writers on a
nifty site called Omegle, which I DO NOT recommend anymore since it is mostly a game of “how quickly can I get you to send me naughty photos?” these days. (Side note, I don’t know this from experience, I got bored early on and have since been clued in.)

I like the idea of Omegle, even though nowadays it is mostly inhabited by pervs, because you have the chance to meet cool people who you might never have met otherwise. On this occasion I met I guy named Dan. He was nice enough, and told me about his book, Rise of the Shadow Stealers.  I bought it, which I know because I have it on the desk right next to me. I have no other memories of that conversation.

I just know that I am about two years late on my responsibility to read and review this book. But I have. And now I shall. Hail redemption, thy kiss is sweet.

The Rundown (via Goodreads)
Fletcher and Scoop are Apprentice Adventurers from the ancient establishment of Blotting's Academy on Fullstop Island, the place where all story characters are trained. The trouble is, they can't remember how they got there.

It's the first day of term, but the two apprentices soon realise something is wrong. Things are going missing, including their own memories, and Scoop has the unsettling feeling that something is creeping in the shadows.

As the children search for answers, they become entangled with the life of the Storyteller, the island's creator and king. They journey to his wedding banquet and find themselves uncovering a hidden past. What is their connection to this mysterious man? And is there more to him than meets the eye?

Spekalation: My First Thoughts (Top 8 Edition) [SPOILERS, possibly]

1. theological parallel :: an odd surprise I didn’t learn from my one-time conversation with Ingram-Brown, there’s a parallel of Adam and Eve (and also sort of Father/Jesus) throughout the book. I like surprise Biblical parallels.

2. intriguing idea :: all the characters live on this island where they are the heroes of stories others will write about, and they know they live in a “fictional world.” As a writer, I was touched by their desire to have a purpose and see their story told.

3. super cute :: on that note, if you love writing, you might just enjoy looking at the map in the front of this book. The entire island revolves around storytelling and writing—my favorite was when Fletcher and Scoop were offered “jotted cream”!

4. questing :: this book is a questing book, which, in a sentence, is when someone goes somewhere for some reason but faces problems and ultimately learns more about him or herself. I’m going to give you two quick comparisons of other questing stories, one for those a little younger than Ingram-Brown’s intended audience, one a little older.

Dora the Explorer // We meet Dora and Boots, we have a problem, we need to get somewhere, we consult the map. There are three places we need to go: the magical mountains of mystery, Australia, and Taco Bell. We go there, we face adversity, and we get where we need to go. Boom.
The Lightning Thief // Percy goes on a quest to get a lightning bolt. We face Medusa, Echidna, Ares, Crusty, and Hades. Five simple opponents, with the occasional social tension or Lotus Hotel and Casino to make things even more difficult. Percy gets where he needs to go, gets the bolt back to Zeus, yay, Percy’s a hero.

Dora has a pretty short show, so she has three locations—and that works. Percy has a whole novel going for him, so he can allow for a few more monsters—and that works, too. I like the quest Ingram-Brown has incorporated, but on the Dora to Percy Scale the book’s length was on Dora’s half and its problems were on Percy’s.

5. a little confusing :: that being said, we didn’t get to spend a lot of time at each location so I wound up getting confused every now and again because there wasn’t enough time devoted to each new setting. There’s also a part at the ending that I’m going to keep a secret from you (we can talk about it later if you read it), but in essence, the story takes an entirely different direction for two pages, and it was too short to make a good impression on me.

6. grammar problems :: there are capitalization problems I saw in there. It doesn’t ruin the book, but my brain tripped every time I caught an error. Also, the word “ok” is used instead of “okay,” and while I know that they’re technically both used, I feel like the latter is the acceptable one to use in writing. If “ok” hadn’t been used so much, it might not have bothered me, but it was, so I was bothered.

7. the fall of man :: not that I want to sound like a bad Christian, but I really loved Ingram-Brown’s parallel to the fall of man, because it was from the point of view of the Satan figure. That motivation… Um, um, can I just say “aldkfjadkfj”?

8. princess :: in accordance with September’s princess mandate, I have to point out that there IS a princess and she IS important. Our auburn-haired Christ figure has himself a girlfriend… I’ll let you guess who she may be.

I’ve said before that I don’t like Christian fiction, and I’ll admit that even in this one, that wasn’t even a little preachy, had a few iffy moments for me. It’s a personal problem. However, I do believe that it’s worth a glance from other writers, and kids who need something safe and sweet to read would enjoy it as well. I mean, Biblical parallels and plays on writing—your kid’s brain will not be damaged. I promise.

Star Rating: 3/5

Have you ever read Rise of the Shadow Stealers? What did you think? What was your favorite part? Or, if you haven’t, do you think it’s something you want to read?

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