I want to rush out right now and buy this for my discerning reader and petulant twelve-year-old my wonderful 12 year-old son Liam.
This is a child who is reading at college level and has been since he was 9. It is a constant struggle keeping him in books because it seems these days so many series skip from first chapter books and fly right through the Wonder Years, right past GO and forget the not all the boys play sports or video games, some of these boys read. There are only so many times a child can read Harry Potter or the Warrior Cat Series. Sure, there are books out there written for boys, but as I said, discerning… book snob.. petulant? With such a small pile to choose from, plus being über picky when it comes to what he reads. He read Anchihiiroo – Origin of an Antihero (Toonopolis Shorts, #1) by J.Rodden and though he said it was to short (umm yes Liam, it is a short story) he liked it, in fact he gave it five moose poo’s! (which is a five-star rating in any 12-year old boys mind because at this age forget about bow ties, moose poo is cool), but he was not interested in reading anything else in the series. He needs meat on his bones, he is not Henry Jones (oh and BTW never teach your children old Choir songs you sang when you were in school, especially jazz ones. This is one of his favorite to sing when he decides he does not want to eat what is for dinner or is in the shower or just plain old in high-speed monkey-doodle mode tunes and .. OK maybe you should because it is hilarious every time I hear him sing it!)
Having said and shared all of that, he is also a child who read Ender’s Game, (over one weekend mind you, he would not put it down even when eating, and glared if we even suggested it.) got all hyper, jumped up and down and did a fist pump and a tiny bit of jazz hand action, turned around three times and said with open arms, dropping to his knees (I am not exaggerating here, and yes obviously this is my child) and clasped his hands in front of his chest giving me his best begging for it look and said
“More… mother dear, give me MORE!”
To which I promptly and with aplomb gave him Speaker for the Dead to which he replied with one raised eyebrow, “Hmmmm? Mom, ummm the dead don’t talk, this is not like that stupid movie is it?” OK so he gets to watch weird and bad movies with me, but let us get to the point, the second in the Ender series was just to old for him subject wise, even the title had him going “meh” He got about a third of the way through and set it aside. When I asked him about it he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I just don’t get Ender’s new gig anymore, he is to old for me. I will finish it later.” As in, he will pick it up in a few years and get it. His brother, who is going to be 23 did the same thing at about the same age and at 14 finished the series and re-read it several times. My point is, where are the wonderful books I remember reading as a petulant discerning book snob of 12? We had them in spades! But I was girl…wait I still am I think but I digress. Sure there are the classics, and Liam has read them all. He has a beautiful collection of leather-bound books he has read over and over, especially Tale of Two Cities and Treasure Island.
Deception Peak is a book that will be part of his Christmas pile of plunder this year. This child is going to adore it and the series will be in his favorite pile. He still has typical tendencies of regular 12-year olds, loves video games – (the child is also scary good at them because of his dexterity level. Did you know that dexterity is directly linked to your comprehension and reading skills as a child. Seriously go google it) tells bathroom flavored humor like a pro, and likes to ride his bike over homemade ramps. This book is written at just the perfect pace for a kids his age to stay intrigued and hooked, it does not get muddled down with details, it keeps you holding your breath at the right moments and reads like a classic fantasy. The story structure for the fantasy aspect is somewhat like one of those good old fashioned RPG games on the computer. Liam loves those games and will get all the video game innuendoes and subtleties veiling a very hard lesson being taught for not only the child protagonist, Ian in the story, but also his father Alex. I would highly recommend this book to single fathers to read along with their sons. I get goose bumps when I think of some of the haunting songs the author uses as story breaks throughout the tale.
“Brave on little soldier, brave into the night
Your journeys before you, your song’s in the light
For many you seek and many you save
Though darkness surrounds you, and powers are great
Though night overcomes the sweetness of day
Brave on through despair, Press on in the fight
The tunnel of grieving, imprisoned by might
The worst will be over and darkness will ebb
You will aft find your way, and wake up in your bed”
pgs. 55-56 — Deception Peak -Dianne Lynne Gardner ©2012
Ian is a child I did not really like at first, yes he is a teenager and yes he has had it hard. His mother died and it seems as if his father was barely hanging by a thread he was so wrapped up in his grief. He is a bit, but he was not the kid in school that is always picked on, but just a smart kid that mouthed off, had a flippant attitude and drew beautifully rendered swords in the corners of his in textbooks. Yep, typical geek behavior I would have to say. His father ran a foundry and made medieval armory, he also was a video game designer. It seems to me this was a project which i to be for both of them, Ian is very artistic (text-book – drawing of swords yada yada?). What more could a boy want? Yet he is typical in the fact some of it is taken a bit for granted. Not a totally typical teenager, he has an obvious deep and abiding love and respect for his father, but is continually having inner dialogues questioning his fathers actions. This turns out to be another great story device making it so appropriate and one that should be used in a classroom setting for reading. It really is written with such intelligent and incredibly woven seamless segues. Oh if she was an SCA’er she would be in the Order of the Winged Harp where all great Bards reside!
Right from the start of Deception Peak, you can see there is a lot of love between father and son, but there is also a sense of distance. There is more talking at each other instead of to each other, almost going through the motions, wanting to connect and needing too but never actually making it. The novel starts off with a dream of Ian’s. It is a perfect prologue for what is to come in this awesome tale. But what happens in the next chapter was a complete surprise to me! I was totally taken back by his father’s irresponsible and child-like actions. If it were Ian it would be understandable, being it would have been the actions of a reckless youth. But for a father to thrust his son into this world which started off as rendering a 3D portal engine as a project for father and son, to exploring a world literally within a computer, or at least the computer program created a “portal” to this world, or …. a “window” (I had to giggle a lot when I read this and tittered a bit more when I read it glowed blue, Liam is going to think this is SO cool! He is a Windows™ man!), had my head spinning a bit. I ended up going back and re-reading the first three chapters and felt a bit better about it. Though, that was me, don’t take that as a ding, my brain was not functioning to clearly, I think I fell asleep mid-chapter on that one, anyway moving along.
With trepidation on Ian’s part, and having nightmares or weird prophetic dreams with more quest like songs being song in the air when he is awake and asleep, they enter the portal and begin to explore a little more each day. They even find horses and ride being able to explore more and more. Ian is still not sure what to think of all of this. (oh and by this point I really could not put it down. If I had not been feeling off physically and falling asleep in my book all the time, which is cool with books like this because I just keep going in my own version). The real action starts when Alex decides they are going camping for the weekend, and not just a few hours. By this time, the learn from one of the characters Ian ever rendered while beginning the video game project, there is a dragon (Yes Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave there is a Dragon!). A big, bad scary dragon, and Ian? He does not want anything to do with it. Smart lad as it turns out. His father? Not so much so… To go any further would be doing spoilers, and you all know me, Sweeties, I do not do spoilers.
Parents of boys, and of adventurous girls of the age range from 12 up, because let’s face it I loved the story. Yes it is YA and it is not written for me. This is not a book written for soccer mom’s and labeled young-adult fiction, this is a book for kids of middle school and up who want a good hearty fantasy read. Who like meat on their bones and want dragons, and swords and quests, OH MY! Just in time for Christmas. We are debating Paperwhites for the kids and I may have to load this on them if we decide to do so. But he is getting a hard copy, because only in the hard copy do you get the beautiful illustrations our author has done.