Thursday, 5 February 2015

Book Review: The Beholder by Ivan Amberlake (revised & updated)

Worlds of Light and Darkness are about to clash. And Jason will be in the thick of it.

In Asunción, Minsk and Sydney, people die under mysterious circumstances. Each branded with an arcane sign, they are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. When more people are missing, with similar signs appearing in and around their homes, Jason, an average New Yorker, realizes the victims are a riddle addressed to him.

He is the final piece.

Emily appears, the most beautiful woman with extraordinary powers and startling amber eyes, and tells Jason that powers dormant within him are about to wake. In the world of Light- and Darksighted, he is the only person who can prevent Darkness from enslaving the world. He is the Beholder whose advent has been awaited for many years.

Setting out on a journey with Emily, Jason discovers many improbable things like Sight, Soulfusion, the Hall of Refuge, but the greatest surprise arrives the moment he sees Emily and finds real love.

My Review:
*I was given a free copy of this book by the author via Goodreads in exchange for an honest review*

This book was unlike anything I have read before. It has subtle elements of urban fantasy, fantasy, paranormal, science fiction and thriller. It is impossible to decide where it fits and for that reason I think it should have a wide appeal. You don't have to be a big fan of any of these genres to enjoy the ride and that is pretty unique..I think I'd go 3.5 stars on this one if I could.

Jason's violent nightmares are causing him physical and mental pain and his world is turned upside when he discovers that they are visions of people being murdered for real, people who are dying to protect him. He is gifted with paranormal powers that lie dormant and uncontrolled, and holds the key to winning a coming war. Being the key to survival against the dark shadows that seek to destroy him and humanity is scary when he doesn't even know his own powers. Trying to protect his best friends and learn from the girl he is falling for complicates his life even further as he tries to help his allies fight their deadly enemy.

So what was good about it? Firstly, the language use is excellent-I cannot believe that the author does not have English as his first language! That is quite a gift to have and I was seriously impressed by it. The use of words is perfect for the plot and each situation. There are flowing descriptions that aren't too complicated, world building without huge info dumps, simple storytelling that carries you along and a plot that is always moving forward. The story is totally different featuring battles between gifted individuals using light and dark energy as weapons, which was a clever concept and worked well. The characters are all interesting but there is no attempt to tell you everything about them. I'm guessing that will happen over the course of the series. The love story part never detracts from the main plot and there are no sex scenes. Nice to see a lack of swearing as well which is pretty refreshing and shows that authors who are clever with language and conversation do not need twenty f bombs per page!

I found it a little difficult to follow a couple of bits where energy was being described but I don't think that was down to the author, more down to my brain going blank when I'm presented with the science stuff! I never was a science nerd and it's a reason I struggle with science fiction. I think most readers will follow it much better than I did, to be honest. For me, there could perhaps have been a bit less about his feelings for Emily (and her frequently mentioned amber eyes), though to be fair, their relationship is mentioned in the book description and it is a minor niggle. I don't mind romance when it is well written and in this case it was.

The action scenes are like something from an X-Men film. I can imagine all the light flashing and people flying around, fighting and putting on a scary show. Very cool! Yet it is more than just sci-fi. There is a real human emotion running through the story as well which is as impoertant as the action. Jason's love for Emily has an almost innocent quality about it. It is about love and affection, and not wanting to be away from her. I liked that because it was different from most books that have romance in it, where the characters are bedhopping ten seconds after they meet. This feels like a real relationship developing slowly, with emotions dominating anything sexual.

It also explores the bonds of human friendship and how strong those bonds can make us, helping us to face our fears and challenges. OK most of us aren't going to be worried about mad shadow men trying to blow them up but a lot of us can relate to having those fierce kinds of friendships that are so important. And of course there is the eternal struggle of good v evil and all the shades of grey that are in between. There is also the struggle within Jason to embrace his destiny when he isn't sure that he is up to the job.

Overall I did enjoy the book and I recommend it to fans of pretty much every genre! I first read this book in June 2013, and getting the chance to re-read it and add some more thoughts to my review before reading book two was a helpful thing for me.
star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg

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