Sunday, February 27, 2011

REVIEW: "The Talisman of Elam" by Jim Mastro

Jason Hunter’s got your typical problems. His parents relocated him to a new city, where he promptly made bad by coming to the aid of a geeky boy and getting himself on the jock “hit list.” Speaking of his parents, they’ve been acting a little, well, distant lately, and then there’s the question of the crazy new neighbors who seem to be spying on him. When he chooses to follow them one night, he makes a discovery that forevers changes what he thinks of himself, his friends, and his family. 
A middle grade novel by Jim Mastro, this book has action and adventure that holds particular appeal for its intended age group. Jason is a believable 12-year-old boy who finds strengths he never knew he had as he pulls together with his friends to find his parents and, basically, save Earth. The adventure takes us into space to visit other planets with advanced civilizations, and introduces us to a federation we never knew existed. The three children in this book, Jason, Kevin and Amelia, are engaging and nicely developed. Each has a distinct personality, and each is valuable to the storyline in his or her own way. Jason may be the star of the story, but his two friends are equally important to the outcome. Shalan, one of the aliens who has a particular interest in protecting Jason, fades a little into the background, which may be fitting for a book geared towards pre-adolescents. The kids are really the stars, and the adults have their place, but are truly secondary. 

Nicely paced, the storyline flows fluidly through several settings and builds up to its finale, which is really just the beginning of the planned trilogy. Although it's just the first installment, the book provides closure, while still setting the stage for the next adventure. One theme in this book relates to the power of children, and this theme is something I always enjoyed when I was in this age group. The idea that an unpopular pre-teen actually has the power to change the world, to do amazing things, and to be so important is an idea that empowers and excites those in this age group. It's the classic story of the underdog making good, in ways that may surprise any who didn't believe in him. This is the first novel for the author, who has been writing predominantly non-fiction for decades. It's a great first jump into a trilogy that is sure to find fans in all age groups. The writing is appropriate for the age level, overall. There were a few instances where the dialogue was a little awkward or unbelievable, but it seemed to ring true for the most part. Some of the adults are more two-dimensional and less believable, but that only puts the spotlight even more on the kids. The ending seemed slightly rushed and perhaps a tad confusing after all the build-up in the story, but it didn't detract from the overall experience.

Very kid-friendly, this book is sure to appeal- especially to those interested in science fiction and space travel.
4 /5 stars

1 comment: said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! I've never heard of this book. After reading your summary and review I'll definitely be checking it out!!