Monday, June 28, 2010

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman

Published in 2009.

The volcanic turbulence that shakes Dael's mind carries him to vicious extremes. It is Zan's task to calm his brother and lead him away from thoughts both destructive and self-destructive. But even the paradise of the Beautiful Country will not erase them. (book back blurb)

In this sequel Zan-Gah is having to deal with the repercussions of his brothers PTSD after his ordeal with the Wasp People and the Noi. Dael's pretty screwed up in the head. He's hell-bent on revenge for how he was treated, despite what it could cost the rest of his tribe.

I like this series simply for just how different it is from all of the other YA stuff out there right now. Yeah, there's a distance from the characters. They're Neanderthals. They don't have the same issues teenagers have today. But they kind of do. They still have to deal with their changing bodies and emotions and parents and siblings but just on a different level and under much different circumstances.

Any excursions they take could cost them their lives. Food is something you have to fight for. Peace needed to be kept because it isn't just a nasty email that they'd receive in response. Despite the seeming simplicity of their situations, I couldn't stop turning the pages or getting taken aback at what someone did.

What I liked the most is the realism. This isn't some fantasy world we're reading about but what used to exist before computers and cars and even kingdoms. It's raw and real and damn near primal. It's a people emerging out of their baser instincts to start to form the societies we know of today. I love the awe and mystery surrounding a volcano. Sure, it's no mystery to us but imaging being them. You've seen mountains before but this one is blazing hot and spitting clouds and fire and liquid fire and smelly gas. What are you supposed to think? An angry god?

I just find these books a refreshing breath of air in the middle of all the YA drama. It's a drama of a different kind. A life or death drama. An unknown drama. The writing's a little showy at times but it doesn't slow the reading down. I'd recommend this one to anyone looking for a nice quick break from the modern YA world and who wants to dive into one that we probably can't even dream of.


Morgan said...

Great review, it does sound refreshing and I'm definitely adding this series to my wishlist. I am really glad you enjoyed it.

April (BooksandWine) said...

I still feel hesitant about reading these books. IDK, not sure how I feel about pre-historical times. I mean, unless there are dinosaurs wandering around, because dinosaurs are baller creatures. Does one of the characters get eaten by a T-Rex? If that happens I will for sure buy these books.

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