Monday, 27 November 2017

Children's book review : Emily Knight ... I Am Awakened - A. Bello

Back in 2013, I reviewed the first book in A. Bello's exciting fantasy series, Emily Knight I Am ... (click through for that review), which introduced us to 13-year-old Emily, a troubled teen trying to come to terms with her mother dying from cancer, her dad disappearing in search of her wayward brother Lox and the fact that she has discovered that she has inherited her father's Warrior gene and can create (but, rather worryingly, not yet control) fireballs from her bare hands. The second book, Emily Knight ... I Am Awakened, picks up more or less where the last one left off - Emily is now 14, still at the Osaki Warrior School, her father is still out looking for her brother and she is still learning to be a Warrior and live up to the expectations everyone has of the daughter of one of the big five warriors of all time, destined to save the world.

The book starts off with a flashback to a little girl called Rose, badly burned in a fire started by Warriors that killed her grandparents and left her hell-bent on revenge. Now grown-up, she has turned into Emily's nemesis, Neci (who we saw in the first book), who is promising war as soon as she locates her final lost warrior. At Osaki, special secret training sessions are underway for the offspring of the Five Warriors, in preparation for this eventuality, but everyone is hoping that Emily's father, the legendary Thomas Knight, who has already defeated Neci in the past, will come back and save the world again.

As I said in my last review, Osaki is like a cross between Mallory Towers and Hogwarts - in this book, it reminded me even more of the Harry Potter series, with friendship, loyalty and magical skills being pushed to their limits. Knowing that there is quite possibly a traitor in their midst adds even more excitement and suspense to the friends' adventures, whether learning to breathe underwater, face their fears on a mountainside or investigate a hidden ice room in the school.

Emily has grown up a lot since the first book and is much less bratty than before. The teenage hormones are in effervescence though with lingering lust-fuelled looks and kisses left, right and centre and even a few PG-rated comments, that left me feeling slightly uncomfortable. Emily and Wesley find themselves in a "will-they-won't-they?" love triangle for the entire book, despite both having teenage flings with other people.

And this leads me to my one gripe with the series. I'm still not sure what the target audience is supposed to be. The front cover looks, to me, as if it is targetting 8-12 year olds. However, some of the content - in particular the surprisingly violent scenes during the numerous Dojo matches, with punches, blood and teeth flying everywhere, the slightly too sexual comments such as "His face is like chocolate. I could lick it." and one use of the word crap - suggests that the audience is supposed to more in the 13-16 age range. Having a daughter in each of those age brackets, I know that Juliette (12) would feel ill at ease with some of the scenes and Sophie (16) would never buy a book with such a babyish front cover. The other problem is the four-year real life gap between the books for a one-year jump in the story. Readers of the first book (let's say 10-13 year olds) may well have outgrown the series by now. This isn't a major problem, as it can be read as a stand-alone novel by a whole new generation of readers, but it would be good to take the Harry Potter inspiration a step further and have the characters growing up in real time, along with the readers.

All in all, it's a fast-paced, enjoyable read, combining both magical fantasy and real life teenage concerns, that tweens and teens of both sexes would definitely enjoy. Imagine a cross between Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and don't be fooled by the childish cover.

star rating : 4/5

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hashtag Press (28 Sept. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0995780641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0995780644

RRP : £7.99

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good but see what you mean about the age group


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