THE MEDORAN CHRONICLES: AKARNAE
With just one step, 16-year-old Alex Jennings’s world changes – literally.
Dreading her first day at a new school, Alex is stunned when she walks through a doorway and finds herself stranded in Medora, a fantasy world full of impossibilities.
Desperate to return home, she learns that only Professor Marselle can help her… but he’s missing. While waiting for him to reappear, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora’s boarding school for teenagers with extraordinary gifts. She soon starts to enjoy her bizarre new world and the friends who embrace her as one of there own, but strange things are happening at Akarnae, and Alex can’t ignore her fear that something unexpected… something sinister… is looming.
An unwilling pawn in a deadly game, Alex’s shoulders bear the crushing weight of an entire race’s survival. Only she can save the Medorans, but what if doing so prevents her from ever returning home?
Will Alex risk her entire world… and maybe even her life – to save Medora?
Note: The place Alex, the protagonist, travels to is called Medora. For those non-Americans, Medora is a brand of jeans sold at Target stores. They’re comfortable and inexpensive. If you’re ever having a “fat day”, buy a pair of Medora jeans — they run two to three sizes smaller than what you would normally wear!
Now on to the no-Spoilers review of Akarnae…
I’ll admit I read a lot of Young Adult (YA) Fiction. I claim it’s for research, but there is a part of me that really enjoys it. With the success of Harry Potter, Twilight, and Percy Jackson, YA fiction is one of the few areas the publishing industry can rely on. Many writers are trying their hand at YA, creating a huge supply of reading. Unfortunately, this has resulted in too many copycats retelling the same story, complete with poor writing, no character development, a plot with a predictable outcome, etc. I rarely make it past the first chapter.
Amazon Kindle has a wonderful solution: free samples. I take advantage of these samples, these free first chapters and, due to my lack of income, occasionally search for a free copy of the complete book to download. (I know we should support our fellow writers, and when I had the income I turned a second bedroom into a library — I was in my early 20’s.) Recently, Kindle recommended I read “Akarnae” (pronounced in the book as, “Ah-kar-nay”), based on my previous reading habits. The title intregued the linguistic – loving editor in my head, and I proceeded to read, then reread, my free sample.
The book was being sold for just under a dollar, but due to some unforseen medical expenses, Akarnae was still out of reach.
It wasn’t just the fact that the sample cut off just as Alex reaches a door. It was that, in less than three chapters, Lynette Noni had created a three-dimensional person that I was now emotionally invested in. In fact, all of the characters had come alive in my mind. Jordan and Bear were the cool boys who accepted Alex as “one of the guys”. I had followed Alex through her goodbyes to her parents, her first experience at her new school, and then as she walks thru a doorway into something completely unexpected…
I’m trying not to give too much away as it is definitely worth your time to buy and read Akarnae, but I also want you to understand that Ms. Noni’s words painted pictures in my mind so that as soon as I finished the sample, I simply had to find out What Happened Next!
I went to Google.
It turns out that Lynette Noni has a blog on WordPress and I was already a follower. By now I was desperate to read the book — I was already a fan of the author’s writing. I went to her blog to find she was having a giveaway. I didn’t have much hope, but I posted a comment anyway. Then, fearing my first contained too much “kissing up”, posted a second begging for a hint at What Happens Next.
Somehow, Fate smiled upon me and I won a free copy of Akarnae!
And then my email stopped working.
Five days later, I have my copy. I will start reading, instead of watching the new “Orange is the New Black”, as soon as my son is asleep.
Yes, more time has passed than I originally planned. As I was about to publish, my phone shut off and the review wasn’t saved on WordPress. I did a cut and paste from my notes, but wasn’t entirely happy. I still feel that Akarnae deserves more, but I don’t want to give too much away as I know people who only read the reviews of a book — not the book itself. I have also been dragging my feet a bit, editing, writing, adding a link or picture, because it seems like I’m closing a door on Medora by posting this. As long as it is a draft, I can go back and reread passages. I know I’m being melodramatic, but it has been a while since I have so thoroughly enjoyed reading a YA book. I also have another confession to make: I read the entire book (not just the passages for this brief piece) in a couple of days, staying up into the night. And then I went back to the beginning to read it over again, more slowly this time. Meaning that I’ve read the first couple of chapters at least four times. (My Scribd account is rather upset with me!)
Reading past those early chapters, I made friends with so many more people that I wasn’t ready to leave them.
Some of the more memorable ones include (I’m leaving out names in an attempt to avoid a Spoiler Tangent): the sadistic teacher who speeds slower students with an electric prod; the kindly Doctor; a close knit family who welcomes Alex over the Medoran version of The Holidays; a grumpy roommate; a real Knight in Shining Armor; a sentient library (which, were it in our world, would make my cutting school to go to the library so much cooler ); and so many more. As cliché as it sounds, each character is so much more than just words on the page. The language Alex and others her age use is also spot on, a huge relief as dialogue is often where YA authors make the mistake of characters sounding too old or too young for their age. Noni has a knack for creating realistic characters.
Like any good protagonist, Alex learns many things from her adventures. She even fails at quite a few things, especially in the beginning, but this serves to make her more of a real person. How many people who have never tried combat could succeed their first, or second, time? Alex has a good, strong character (there’s that word again! ) and is able to joke and laugh about her failures. And learn from them. It does help that she meets two wonderful guys who, instead of hitting on her, become her closest friends. But the back and forth between Alex, Jordan, and Bear seems very natural.
Reading this book on my phone means that I wasn’t sure how many pages I had actually read until I looked it up (or tried to, as Google was no help). During my first reading, I felt that the climax had come to soon. It was during my second reading that I realized the climax occurred about two-thirds of the way in. I simply hadn’t wanted the book to end. And those early chapters provide a wonderful basis for getting to know Alex and the new world she has found herself in. While written in the third person, I found it easy to see Medora thru Alex’s eyes. Like anyone else would in a similar situation, Alex often asks questions about what she is experiencing. I read one review that said there was more telling than showing (see the GoodReads link below) but, being a verbose person, I am a fan of dialogue. Very few YA writers are able to write realistic dialogue (and some shouldn’t do it at all).
I’m in no way implying that there isn’t action throughout. There is, and plenty of it. The pages are filled with stories and adventures which also serve to emotionally invest the reader (and you, future Akarnae reader, who should purchase this book immediately) in the characters. This includes a surprise character I hadn’t known I’d come to be so curious about! (I’m thinking I should write a second, unpublished review in which I can give all the spoilers away. That way I won’t have to edit this one so much.)
I really enjoyed the book. It isn’t a change the world type of book, but neither is it a bit of fluff. Akarnae does what it aims to do, and that is to give you a good, solid story, believable characters, and adventures which are funny, exciting, even a bit scary near the end. Overall, this book gives you a nice escape into another world. And while Akarnae is an excellent stand-alone book, I sincerely hope that Ms. Noni is hard at work on Book 2 (hint, hint ).
A great big huge THANK YOU to Lynette Noni for writing a book that rises above the rest and for whatever system you used which allowed me to win a copy of Akarnae. And an apology for taking so long to write this review.