Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review: The Gaia Wars by Kenneth G. Bennett

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Deadly secrets have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of mind.


Until today...


Warren Wilkes, age 13, doesn't like what a greedy housing developer has done to his peaceful mountain community, so he vandalizes the developer's property, flees into the wild, and stumbles upon an ancient human skeleton revealed by torrential rain. More than old bones have been exposed, however, and the curious artifact Warren finds makes him question his own identity, and his connection to an ancient terror. A terror destined to rise again and annihilate all that Warren loves. He must fight or see his whole world destroyed.


 "He wished it would slow down. The systems were so beautiful, so real, and so startlingly different. He wanted to linger." Kenneth G. Bennett. The Gaia Wars (Kindle Location 834).


Review

The Gaia Wars is based around Warren Wilkes, an outdoor-loving teen that lives and breathes Cascadia. It's way out west, where he lives with his Uncle after being orphaned as a child. After such an intense tragedy, he is consoled by old recording's of his parents voices and the knowledge that his passion for the outdoors is in his blood. Stories that insist his father was as much of a woods-junkie outdoorsman even from childhood are a comfort, added to knowing his mother shared the same love. It seems to set the stage for how devastating the new developers destroying the lakeside shores seems to be. Warren does what any other realistic, resourceful, and impulsive teen does - he decides to play hero and make his point known with a clever prank, without considering the consequences. His victim? The town bullies, Todd Finley Sr. and his spawn of a child - Todd Finley Jr.

His prank is a success - which means it goes terribly wrong. Now, he's on the wrong end of a fast chase that leaves the reader breathless, and never slows down. One by one fascinating complexities are thrown into Warren's life - the dead man, the artifact, his BFF Sean Gibson, and even the later-met Mirra, Ina, Thaddeus, and the creepy Mr. P. Few of which are on the same team and both leaving Warren and his sympathizing reader unknowing who and when to trust.

As the story unfolds and progresses, you begin to feel connections is this elaborate, well-crafted web. There are so many layers and dynamics to this book. It's mysterious. It's riveting. Once Warren's labeled a delinquent (to the extremists characters - an ecoterrorist), The Boy Who Cried Wolf concept makes an appearance. Everything that comes with the inclusion of Ridgequest, Warren's relationship with his Uncle or hurt over his parents, bullying by the Finleys, his amazing discovery, and his friendship with Sean... it all reveals a greater purpose. It reminds me when you go to a theme park and get a caricature done - each swipe of the marker is strong, confident, deliberate - as though the artist knows exactly what it will look like and where the lines meet, rather than an amateur that makes an insecure mark and bases the next off the last. Everything comes together, rather than existing for the sake of being there.

In addition to fantastic editing and high-quality work, This read is exciting, fast paced, and amazingly visual. Warren, in all of his outdoorsy glory, has a spiritual connection with the Earth from the very beginning. Earth is beautiful, unexplored, and amazing - to be cherished, rather than abused by the Finleys. It brings to light details about nature that only your subconscious can absorb, and captures the awe of North American woods. On terms of subconscious, the strong themes of perhaps a 'global warming' message, makes the reader want to take a look at our own subconscious destruction of our planet with each industrialized acre. 

When reading books, I keep two perspectives in mind, double thinking everything I read. The first is the pure eye of the leisure reader, the second is the blogger preparing for a review. The later often subconsciously generates references for similar books, or even looks for hints as to exactly what audience would enjoy the novel and whom that audience may be already reading. In the beginning, Warren describes monkey-wrenching and pranks in rallying support of an abused ecosystem (victimized by the wealthy developer bullies in town destroying the lake). As I read this, I anticipated a young adult version of Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. Themes of "green living" are constant throughout the book, often in metaphors as well as strong beliefs of the "good guy" characters - not unlike what was done with The Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson. Once I began to read on, where the story starts to get warm for the upcoming fire, to when Warren discovers an amulet with the skeleton in the mountains while on the run (which we later learn has a very interesting story while little consequence to the big picture - a really great dynamic!), I assumed it went from Hoot to a "Goonies" version of "The Mummy". Reading on, I once again realized that my assumptions could not have been more off.

This book, surprising to a reader basing their expectations only on the first few chapters, is actually not only extremely entertaining and thrilling, but it's also chilling at times! Chilly, but awesome; a little scary, but really good! It manages to appeal to a wide range of age groups, spanning from young teens and adults! If you're a teen reader who has just transitioned into young adult after tasting the Middle Grade genre, or even if you're simply scouting and gifting for one, Warren's realistic and relateable youth as a 13-year-old boy combined with the intensity and thrill of the antagonists to be revealed is a perfect read! Although there is death, the writing is exceptionally clean, again appealing for younger teens. But, if you're a long-time young adult fanatic of any age, this is a really unique new read too!

If the fascinating culture of Native Americans (a shamefully rare occurrence in YA - especially paranormal) and the chilling description of the creatures, based in inhumanity and sterility of things like mannequins yet beasts, isn't enough, the premise certainly is. The premises and concepts are not only extremely unique for a novel itself, but for a story involving this particular type of supernatural (No spoilers! Read the book!) too.

I suggest when you purchase The Gaia Wars, you also purchase the sequel, Battle for Cascadia. The ending is an intense cliff-hanger, and more hook than conclusion. When I finished reading it, I didn't want to stop to go write a review - I wanted to open the next one and keep reading! Luckily, the other is happily waiting for me in the Kindle Library. I also recommend that if you are reading via eReader, use the "White" color mode to fully appreciate the pretty chapter heading text - being that it otherwise looks like a picture.

I recommend this to readers of The Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Weaver Saga by John Abramowitz, and to fans of Super 8 and Avatar.

Highly Recommended!


  
 Notes...


As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of The Gaia Wars eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.


What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards up to $100 in amount, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 5 autographed copies of its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia.


Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 9th, so you don’t miss out!


To Win the Prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of The Gaia Wars for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!
...And I can win too!
Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.


The Featured Events include:
Monday, Blogaganza on Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask the writer 5 fun and random questions to get everyone talking. Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of The Gaia Wars or its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!


Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest! A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs. The winner will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: Looking for a YA read that's full of adventure & intrigue? Check out The Gaia Wars. Reduced to just 99 cents http://ow.ly/7ywpZ #whirlwind


Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see The Gaia Wars book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs. Three chances to win! How about that?


Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see The Gaia Wars book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs.


Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Win a Kindle Fire or a $100 Amazon gift card, simply by leaving a comment on Kenneth’s most recent blog post. How easy is that? Autographed copies of The Gaia Wars and its recently released sequel, Battle for Cascadia, are also up for grabs.




Remember, it’s all about the books!


About The Gaia Wars: DEADLY SECRETS have been buried in the Cascade mountain wilderness for centuries. Hidden. Out of sight and out of mind. Until today… Warren Wilkes, age 13, doesn’t like what a greedy housing developer has done to his peaceful mountain community, so he vandalizes the developer’s property, flees into the wild, and stumbles upon an ancient human skeleton revealed by torrential rain. More than old bones have been exposed, however, and the curious artifact Warren finds makes him question his own identity, and his connection to an ancient terror. A terror destined to rise again and annihilate all that Warren loves. He must fight or see his whole world destroyed. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


Battle for Cascadia: When Warren Wilkes, age 13, stumbles upon a mysterious relic deep in the Cascade Mountains, wonder reigns. Brimming with secrets and sentient energy, the relic leads Warren to a fantastic chamber, and to shocking revelations about his identity. Now wonder has turned to dread. A forgotten terror—a demon that knows Warren better than he knows himself—has risen again and is assembling an army; gathering power with a singularly evil goal in mind: to capture and enslave the wild spirit of the Earth itself. As war erupts and the planet slips into chaos, Warren embraces his destiny and finds help where he least expects it. Get it on Amazon or Barnes &Noble.


About the Author: Kenneth G. Bennett is the author of the Young Adult novels The Gaia Wars and Battle for Cascadia (the second book of The Gaia Wars), as well as the forthcoming Exodus 2018, a paranormal thriller set in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. A wilderness enthusiast who loves backpacking, skiing and kayaking, Ken enjoys novels that explore the relationship between humans and the wild. He lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and son. Visit him on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

3 comments:

Emlyn Chand said...

Miranda, you've done it again! You are a reviewing super star. I know it's still early in the game, but I can say with utmost confidence, you will be making the shortlist of top 3 review entries. Then it will be up to the panel to decide your fate once again. You have a real talent. I can't believe how much writing ability you've acquired in your--what--16 years?!

Would you also cross-post this stunningly well-written and insightful review to Amazon and GoodReads?

Once again, bravo!

Emlyn :-D

Kenneth G. Bennett said...

Miranda, thank you for this absolutely amazing, detailed review! It's just beautifully written. Thank you for making a home for my books on your blog and for taking the time to craft something really special. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story!

Miranda said...

15 years! Haha! :) I actually intended to post it on Goodreads and Amazon, but it must have slipped my mind. It's pending now!

Thank you both so much! I'm glad the review was appreciated. :) Congrats on the tour!

Thanks for stopping by! :)

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