Despite enjoying many aspects of this fantasy story and the author’s blog chronicling her writing and publishing experience, and looking forward to the second book in this planned five-book series, the logical inconsistencies and problematic world-building must be acknowledged. This doesn’t mean that the novel is not fun, it is. However, it also means that Noni has her work cut out for her to pull this story and world together. Rowling managed to do that in her third Harry Potter story after mangling the second book, and overall that series pulled together nicely considering its randomness at the beginning. One can hope that Akarnae will pull the same feat rather than following in the path of its other major influence, the Narnia series, which never solidified its rules in its world-building. To be clear, this story pulls heavily from the Narnia and Potter series, and never to good effect.
Too many borrowings from the other series just do not make sense in the world of Akarnae, which is supposed to be a technological world far in advance of Earth. It insists repeatedly that what seems to be magic is really genetics and technology–good for it. Then why does the Akarnae Academy for Gifted Students not reflect that reality instead of embracing medievalism? Why–in an advanced civilization where long-distance travel is made instantaneous through wormholes–are Archery, Sword-play [Combat], and Equestrian Skills core subjects? Not once do archery nor horses play a part in the action sequences, or elsewhere for that matter. Harry Potter’s Care of Magical Creatures is given yet another core class [though under a different name], but not a single unique creature plays a part in the plot, not even a minor role or a background cameo.
The major characters are enjoyable for the most part. Alex[andra] Jennings, the protagonist from Earth and her two sidekicks: Jordan Sparker and “Bear”, both of Medora, are a little too sarcastic all of the time and very good-looking (every single person in Medora is described as very good-looking without note to unique features beyond eye-color), but they manage to stay fun more than not. Their actions and reactions “feel” real after the initial few chapters of awkward set-up. [Initially, the boys are surprisingly casual and uncurious about someone from Earth appearing for the first time in thousands of years.] Later, their characters come into their own. Unfortunately, that is not yet true for many secondary characters. Alex may not understand a character’s motivations, but that doesn’t mean the character shouldn’t have a logical motivation. All too often, motivational questions are raised and not answered. Hopefully, a near sequel can tie up loose threads and separate itself from its influences to become its own world and series.
The potential for an intriguing series are definitely here. The second installment will make or break this one. I received a free Kindle-version of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a review.
[Check out my other reviews here.]