Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review: The Map Across Time

"Heaven is not impressed with power and strength, but favors those with a true heart.  Let your heart lead you, Adin, for love is what will drive you and protect you.  The solution to all your troubles lies in your past."

An ancient curse plagues the kingdom of Sherbourne, and unless it is stopped, all will fall to ruin. The King, obsessed with greed, cannot see the danger. But his teenage twin children, Aletha and Adin, know they must act. A hermit leads Adin to a magical map that will send him back in time to discover the origin of the curse. Once back, Adin must find the Keeper, who protects the Gate of Heaven, but all he has is a symbol as a clue to guide him. Unbeknown to Adin, Aletha follows her brother, but they both arrive in Sherbourne’s past at the precipice of a great war, and there is little time to discover how to counteract the curse.

One unexpected disaster after another forces the twins to make difficult choices. Adin’s only hope to correct the past is to return to the future to manipulate events so his quest can succeed. Through his trials and failures, Adin learns that nothing can stop heaven from accomplishing its goal, and that all events work for the good of those who trust heaven. An epic fairy tale with surprising twists, embracing the enduring power of love and faith. (From the back cover.)

Okay, I have to admit: I was expecting a good, fairy-tale read with not much force to the plot.  Good, but not great.  That was, in essence, the summary of my opinion of The Wolf of Tebron (Book One of the Gates of Heaven Series).

And I was so, so wrong.

First, I have to hand it to this author: C. S. Lakin has a way of packing a novel full of proverbs and truths (most of which come so naturally to the text that you don't think twice about it).  If you were a highlighting person, this would be one of those few fiction books to highlight.  There were tons of paraphrased verses and proverbs in this book that made the words jump off the page and into real life.

This book excelled where the other struggled: plot.  The story started out a little slow, with little mysterious tidbits to drive us on.  And then, around a fifth of the way through the book, The Map Across Time picks up until it grabs you by the throat and takes you on a wild ride to the satisfying end.  The plot twists are wonderfully shocking, as they should be, and most of the questions are answered by the final page. This was a huge improvement from the second book, making the series jump from "good" to "epic" in the four hundred pages of this novel.

It's mysterious enough that I may have to re-read the Wolf of Tebron to make the less obvious connections between this book and the first; no doubt, the next book will increase the connections even more.

The characters are fantastic.  Each character, to some extent (especially evident in the short snatches we had of a minor character, Merin) had their own unique voice, and all of them were very well-developed.  I loved them.  I really did.  This novel is definitely a prime example of character development.

This novel also had a subtly mysterious take on description.  The description and overall writing had almost a magical feel to it; it certainly enhanced the fairy-tale theme of the book, and made the pages turn quickly.  The use of Hebrew as the "language" helped make it "mysterious" as well.  It really added to the book.

There were very few cons with this one.  I found one or two typos, but nothing too bad.  There were several awkward scenes that could have been written better (like the sudden romance between two characters and a couple other instances), but it didn't detract too much from the story.  The whole time-travel thing became very confusing nearing the end (one time, no pun intended, I lost track of which time I was reading in), and it also made the book seem a bit circular.  The ending(s) reminded me a bit of the end of "Green" (one of Dekker's books that I really disliked), but this book actually had an ending.  The author pulled it off, and I really liked it.

And, to note one last thing: the cover art is definitely phenomenal.  The physical copy has this weird kind of sheen that makes it...glimmer.

All in all, I absolutely loved this book; mysterious, magical, engrossing, with a shining worldview.  I can't wait until the next one comes out.

Rated 9 out of 10. (Five stars.)  Read this book!  Or better yet, buy it!

(This book was given to me for free by AMG Publishers in exchange for a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.)

5 comments:

Eldra said...

Why didn't you like Green? Is it because of the ending (or lack thereof)? I heard he rereleased Green with a different ending (or is planning on it; I can't remember which). Personally, the ending for Green didn't bug me, although I'm glad that I'd previously read Showdown, Saint and Sinner, as the book probably wouldn't have made much sense otherwise.

Oops. This really doesn't have anything to do with your review, does it?

Chrisopher said...

What is the first book in the series? Excellent review, well thought out. How do you get all those free books in exchange for reviews?

Jake said...

@Eldra
First, I disliked Green because 1) it was much darker 2) it had *content* that actually made me want to write an entire blog post on things I will never do in my writing, 3) the ending felt...like, Eastern, if you know what I mean. Endless circle. Reincarnation. Even if it wasn't reincarnation.

Not really. ;)

@Christopher
The first book is The Wolf of Tebron. It's a lot shorter with a slow-moving plot, but it's good as well. You don't *need* to read the first book in order to read this one (they don't have much to do with each other, although there are some similar plot strands), but it'd be better to read that one first.

Many publishers have blogger review programs. You have a blog, you want free books, and you're willing to write a review: that's all it takes. If you want to look into it, I'd recommend checking out WaterBrook Multnomah's indepth program: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/

Getting free books in exchange for a review is pretty awesome. :)

Eldra said...

Hmmm. Interesting. I agree that Green was definitely darker and more mature that the first three. There were definitely scenes/moments that the book could have done without.

Chrisopher said...

Check out my blog at http://www.thereandblogagain.com

Christopher

P.S. We are allowed to post link to our blogs here. Aren't we?