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5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent sophomore effort with a surprising twist
Reviewed in the United States on April 28, 2021
As most fantasy buffs know, the sophomore effort in a series oftentimes disappoints, feeling contrived and/or trite, serving as nothing more than a pivot point from the first book to the real action of the later books. Plight of the Rokan Boy avoids this fate by taking the story in a completely unexpected direction. The author introduces new characters that are not merely substitutes for the characters from the first book but are interesting in their own right. The tone and style are different, showing a range of narrative competence that is rare these days. Without getting into specifics, this story turns a critical eye on the world of Errus, and the things it reveals are easily translated to our own world. It still relies on familiar tropes to tell the story, which is comforting and gives the story an internal consistency that drives the plot of the book and the metanarrative, but it does so in unusual ways. There are more than a few twists and turns that can take the reader by surprise yet are completely in keeping with the characters and narrative. The characters are complex and often conflicted, giving them a richness and texture that makes them compelling. And, in my opinion, the ending is unanticipated but completely earned, being the only logical conclusion as one reflects on the overall story. This gift of building a coherent story that can still take the reader by surprise is a rare talent, and Gordon Greenhill shows that he is a budding master storyteller. This should be essential reading for any fan of science fiction, fantasy, or good literature in general.
5.0 out of 5 starsExpanding story of Errus and Earth with fun and unexpected storylines
Reviewed in the United States on May 6, 2021
I really liked Skycricket and the sisters and their discovery of this fantastic new world, and their adventures, as the world enveloped them and pulled them into an adventurous thread of destiny. I expected to pick up the second book and take off where "we left our heroes" and proceed onwards. But Rokan Boy entered at a completely different angle and layer of the story with new characters, and races, and deep backstory that made you care about Romul, the orphan from the wrong side of the tracks and wrong race of "latecomers" who is shocked to learn that much of what he was raised to believe, about himself and his race and people, may be completely incorrect.
Thankfully his path does soon catch up with Eli, Anna, and dear Rose who's tangled skien of their own quest just happens to line up with Romul's, and they pick up another mad scientist/tinker and face an amazing array of dwarves, mermaids, orcs, and others who will block or bolster (or both) them in their united goals. The characters make you care, the adventure keeps you turning pages (clicking pages?), and the dialog makes you think - and think more deeply than you think a young adult novel might lead you into - no easy black-and-white answers to some issues that they (and we) face.
My favorite new character, probably because of an uncanny resemblance to the man in the mirror, was probably "Crazy old Ylfig", but explaining more about why would include too many spoilers.
I was frustrated, but understanding, with the ending of this volume as it came a bit too soon to fully resolve some of my biggest questions. But the story did resolve the big part of the story arc that came so unexpectedly at the start of the book, without bringing closure to the larger story. I have some huge questions ... I have several predictions/theories ... so while this branch of the story resolves itself nicely, I do anticipate where these girls, their new friend (and most probably some additional necessary members to complete their epic mission) will unite in the future to try and save their interconnected worlds.
Mr. Greenhill has done something beautiful here. One of the ways that you know you’re dealing with a good writer is if their work has the ability to speak broadly to people across generations. Readers often remark that The Chronicles of Narnia always have a freshness about them. Every time you read a Chronicle there is something new to see and reflect on. Plight of the Rokan Boy, I think (having only read it once so far) is going to have that unique form of longevity.
I’m middle aged. I chuckled at parts that I expect my children will laugh out loud at. I smiled knowingly and was warmed by the wisdom with which some of the characters spoke to one another (the youngest character possesses remarkable relational wisdom). My brow furrowed as I thought about the difficulties, physical, relational, and mental, that characters had to navigate. Indeed, there are some dynamics in the book that I suspect are intended almost purely for academics who need to be returned to a more humble position. That’s good writing.
This is a book worth reading. It’s worth reading aloud to others. It’s worth revisiting.
Plight of the Rokan Boy is a very engaging sequel to Flight of the SkyCricket. If you have enjoyed the first novel, then you will want to continue the adventures of the Hoover girls and their new friends in Errus. Do you have a wish to learn more about the longaevi? You will definitely do so--salamanders, mermen, dwarves--along with their amazing powers. It is a real page turner.
5.0 out of 5 starsTerrific Read – fantastic, fun adventure!!
Reviewed in the United States on June 1, 2021
My oldest (16) has been asking for this second book since she got to the end of the first one! Just as the first, Greenhill delivers an exciting story filled with loveable and relatable characters. We enjoyed this adventure just as much, if not more, than the first. Bring on book 3!