We’re going to do things a little differently this week. I read a LOT of books recently that I really want to review, so in order to keep to my planned schedule, I’m doing an review today, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday along with my flash fiction post. Enjoy this first one.
The Infernal Guard: Emergence
By: SGD Singh
Summary: Seventeen year-old Asha’s days are spent training in martial arts, attending homeschool classes, and helping in the kitchens of a luxurious Miami resort which she seldom leaves. Until the night her grandfather arrives home mysteriously injured, accompanied by a terrifying stranger. Asha begins to suspect that nothing is what it seems when she is abruptly sent to Punjab, India to live with relatives she never knew she had.
Joined by her best friend, Lexi, and her newfound cousin, Nidhan, Asha is soon drawn to an unusual place where the three of them learn that our World is much more than it appears. And there is a good reason people are afraid of the dark.
Meet The Infernal Guard: Shape-shifting Jodha warriors, Seers of various psychic Talents, Healers, Illusionists, and weapons-creating Tvastars. They are the gifted few who fight to protect our realm from demonic Underworlders escaping the seven lower dimensions of Hindu Mythology’s Fourteen Worlds.
As the next generation of heroes from around the globe gathers to begin training, Asha discovers true love and a family in her friends and instructors. But something in the darkness knows that she alone possesses the rarest Talent of all. Now Asha must find the courage and strength to risk everything she has gained before a devouring evil like no other The Infernal Guard has ever faced destroys our realm’s very existence. (via Goodreads).
This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for quite some time; ever since I saw the beautiful cover art and read the summary. Now that I’ve finally gotten around to it, I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint. For lovers a fantasy and mythology, this book will definitely be a win.
- World-Building: it’s impossible for me to review this book without talking about the epic world building that must’ve gone into writing it. It fuses together classic monsters such as vampires, witches, werewolves, and zombies, with mythology of Hindu legends. There are more creatures than I care to count, and they each have their own distinct abilities and weaknesses. The world of the Infernal Guard, the group trained to vanquish the earthen realm of these demons, is just as rich. I can only imagine how much time the author spent perfecting the layout of the Guard Headquarters in India, where the story takes place, as well as the way of life and training methods to which new recruits must become accustomed. The society is incredibly detailed, and it is this detail that makes it seem like the Guard and their practices could actually occur.
- Realism: I touched on this above, but I really admire the author’s ability to keep a world as fanciful as hers still firmly grounded in reality. Throughout the novel, there are several mentions of civilians, or ordinary humans; how they react to, cope with, and are sometimes veiled from, the happenings of the Guard and the Underworlders. Unlike other Y.A. adventure books I’ve read, Emergence also does a wonderful job of remembering that while the members of the Guard are indeed very powerful, they are also only 17. Actions have real consequences from the adults, and the adult members of the Guard are just as much involved in any life-threatening event as the main teenage characters. Much of the book focuses on the relationships of the trainees with their classmates and their mentors, while also giving them adequate time to hone their abilities in various areas before ever being thrown into dangerous circumstances. While, in my opinion, the evolution from innocent civilians to experienced trainees did take up more time than the main battle, by doing so, Singh gave her world and characters a lot more depth, choosing to let them drive the story, rather than a looming threat or race against time. Though I thoroughly enjoy those types of books, this approach was a nice change of pace.
- Diversity: Though the story is located in india, and many of the characters are of Indian descent, several cultures are represented, not only in race, but fighting styles, and language, even social classes. Everything melded together, and I felt the inclusion of those details only made the Guard that much more plausible.
- Ensemble Cast: I learned something very important about myself as a reader throughout the course of this book, because the most notable con to me was the amount of important background characters. In truth, I hate to put this in the con section, because I think employing this method was very smart, as an entire Guard meant to rid the world of demons couldn’t exist as realistically with a smaller cast of people. However, I am much more apt to connect with smaller casts as a whole. So many of the characters’ names sounded similar to me, and, as much as they were around, there were so many people to keep track of that I found it hard to distinguish personalities and backstories at times. There are 20 trainees and at least eight adults that appear on a regular basis throughout the novel. Unfortunately, I only felt for the five or six that received the most “screen time.” Due to this, I was unable to hold on to important elements of the plot, and therefore couldn’t muster as much emotional investment in them as I would’ve liked.
Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars Recommended for fans of adventure and fantasy stories and large casts of characters.
Recommendation: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Summary: Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world– and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever… (via Goodreads)
Challenge of the Month: What’s your favorite fantasy book you’ve read so far this year?