This month, I received a free review copy of Allon from the publicist. It’s a fantasy book for young adult readers about an imaginary kingdom under the oppressive rule of an evil king. But the remnant of citizens who believe the truth are holding to the promise of a future leader who will bring salvation. It took a great deal of imagination for the author to create this imaginary world, complete with many characters, a language of their own, and battle after battle. If you’re thinking this sounds a bit like Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, you’re right. In the same fashion, Shawn Lamb constructs a fantasy with unusual creatures and a theme that reminds the reader of a heavenly kingdom. The country of Allon even has 12 provinces, similar to the 12 tribes of Israel. The characters study “verse” which sounds a lot like “scripture.”
Yes, it sounds like Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, but that’s as far as the similarities go. I found it difficult to get into the book because there are so many characters. Every page introduced more, and I began losing track of who was good, who was bad, and who was who. I was well into the book before I could see Ellis as a clear main character. The story was difficult to follow and too complicated for a young adult audience. Some scenes were too mature for the 9-12 audience as well, dealing with sexual attraction and violence.
As I read, I kept thinking this book would be so much better as a movie where the reader would see the action since it was so difficult to “see” it on the page. When I read the author’s bio and realized she has excelled with her screenplays, I can see why I thought this. She has a tremendous imagination and I’m sure her screenplays are terrific. However, on the writing side, she hasn’t yet figured out how to translate a screenplay into printed word. Many times, I found the story to be telling instead of showing. And most of the description was written with passive voice (lots of the word “was”) and excessive use of adverbs. Examples: “Marcellus’s eyes wrathfully narrowed…” “Wren lowly instructed.” “He painfully fell to his knees…”
I truly wish I could rate this book higher, but it takes more than a great idea to produce a great book.