About the Book
I squint my eyes at Danielle and whisper with my lips firmly in place, “I will never give up.”
Her voice is high and cheerful, “So what’s your plan?”
Johnny Boggs is a teen with trouble to spare who has learned one thing in life – trust no one. Paranoia befriends him as he moves into his fifth foster home and discovers no one appears as they are, his dreams are not just dreams, and he is supposedly the Prince of Shamayim.
On Johnny’s sixteenth birthday, fate requires him to leave the protection of this world but allows for him to choose to reign over the light or turn to the darkness. A vicious competition begins as two kingdoms fight for his loyalty while two beautiful girls, Danielle and Shay, fight for his attention. Time is running out; a decision must be made. Johnny finds it impossible to resist the beauty of his dreams, nor can he turn away from the one who has his heart
Christian Young Adult/Paranormal
This book started off nicely, drawing me in with its first words—I applaud that. With each page, I found it more engaging and intriguing, and grew to appreciate the plot.
While the idea of the story is a good one, I don’t agree it was well executed. Some of the sequences of events were too convenient, as though they were put in place to simply carry the plot forward, but without having them agree with other plotlines in the story. As a rule, I don’t engage spoilers, but in this case, I’ll mention a few things: There were guardians that supposedly watched the prince’s—Johnny’s—every move so that he was never out of their sight. Yet, after this was revealed in the second half of the book, Johnny managed to get into trouble at almost every turn with no one there to help. The teacher of theatre class, who was also a guardian, was never there, even though the theatre was where two major attacks happened. Also, right after Johnny was saved from a particular attack by his foster parents who were also guardians, knowing the danger that lurked around, they left him on his own to go home after school, and so within hours, he was nearly abducted again in a school bus. His foster mother apparently had to rush off to attend to some errands (and didn’t think to take him along). That doesn’t make any sense. It’s either the guardians were just plain careless, or like I said, the sequence of scenes were conveniently arranged to carry the desired plot forward.
Something else in the story stood out to me and also didn’t make any sense—the idea that Johnny needed to remain ignorant of who he was so he could stay protected. Here’s a teenager who will be turning sixteen in a VERY short while. At sixteen, he’ll be able to wield the greatest power ever known to exist in either kingdoms, and he’ll have to choose which kingdom to rule because he can’t have both. Yet, the guardians never once thought it was important to not only tell him his true identity, but to also prepare him in a way that he could defend himself against spiritual attack. The only training he ever got was that of physical combat, which in the second half of the book, was clearly useless to him when he encountered the agents of darkness. For some reason, the guardians believed all they needed do was watch him until the “right” time. What that right time was, I’m not sure. Because Johnny did turn sixteen, and when he did, he was still confused about a lot of things because no one ever took the time to explain anything. What he came to know, he only did because he was stubborn and determined not to continue hiding. I don’t see any sense in that. Like I said, it seemed the scenes were put together to follow through with a desired plotline even though it wasn’t plausible. In the end, they contradicted earlier mentions.
While the world-building was very good, there were some parts of the story where descriptions fell short. It left me confused about what was happening, until later in the story when I had it figured out. Sometimes I didn’t. A simple instance was when Johnny noticed Danielle, his love interest, smiling at him. According to Johnny, Danielle smiled because she liked his “new look”. What look?—a light-glowing look? Increase in height/stature/muscles?—we were never told or showed. This particular instance happened twice. There are other non-descript instances.
Also, from the start, it was clear Johnny had a crush on Danielle. Somewhere down the story, it was also obvious Danielle felt the same way about Johnny. They became close friends within weeks, and that’s all we were told. So when somewhere towards the end of the story, it was mentioned that they were in love with each other as though there was a romantic relationship between them, I couldn’t accept it, even as fiction truth, because throughout the course of the story, I didn’t perceive their relationship develop toward that direction. I felt like it was sprung on me—another convenient addition to carry the story forward.
From a moral point of view, I had issue with Johnny being able to channel his powers ONLY through anger. I don’t understand that.
Finally, the dual end made me uneasy. Honestly, I don’t fancy the idea of a reader choosing one of two ends of a story. I love it when an author steps outside traditional boundaries to make a great story. But I also believe an author should take full responsibility for the beginning, middle, and end of a story. Not the reader. This is why readers have great respect for authors. An author takes words, wielding them into a beautiful and unique tale, leading the reader on a journey with the promise to fully deliver literary satisfaction, so that when the reader is done, they can say, “Wow! That was awesome!” But some of that magic is lost when as a reader you know there’s another end spun by the author—one that you prefer less. This leaves you with a bittersweet sensation. You can’t shake off that other “end”, and there’s a reason why—the author put it there. Not you the reader, and so you can’t take it out. You can only choose one. This is why stories have the power to inspire—partly because no part of it is the reader’s making. That being said, since this is book #1, and so we don’t know the “ends” yet, it might be that both tales will lead to the same end with Johnny ending up on top. I really hope so. No reader wants to see a protagonist go under.
About Jana Grissom
I am a mom of two amazing teens, married to Roy, my high school sweetheart (Yes ladies, fairy tales do come true!), a middle school teacher, an advocate for foster children and at-risk teens, and a never-ending student!
I hold a Master of Education in Administration and Policy Studies and I’m chasing my doctorate in Special Education. Currently, I offer professional development in bullying identification, prevention, and intervention and I am available to speak to students at secondary schools about the writing process or bring a message that challenges them to S.T.O.P. bullying and suicide. Oh, and one more very important detail: I love CHOCOLATE!