Spirit Thorn by Zacharias O'Bryan
Genre: YA, science fiction, fantasy
Age restriction? None. "Clean" fiction.
Published: August 7, 2010
Publisher: VeraVoz, LLC
An intellectual and pretty abstract read - I just couldn't get into the plot or the characters.
Description: Do parallel worlds exist? Searching for proof, Professors Rodger & Cassie Swift vanish. Kestrelle, a spirit girl claiming to know their fate, tells their son Braden he must brave a whitewater, tooth-sprouting river into a land where wise vultures predict the future and blue minds inhabit lava caves. Only two powers can help: Kestrelle's Blood Thorn and Braden's vine-painted guitar.
REVIEW: I wish I could give half-stars, because while Spirit Thorn doesn't quite merit three stars for me, I feel kind of bad giving it only two.
So, story synopsis: Braden's parents, who were world-renowned physicists working on incredibly complex and provocative research regarding the physics behind parallel universes, disappeared without a trace year ago. Determined to find out what happened to them, Braden concocts an elaborate plan to recreate the exact conditions of the night his parents vanished, hoping to join them. Instead, he is pulled into a race to save not only his own world, but possibly all worlds.
I loved the premise of this story and kept hanging on, hoping that eventually things will start making sense, but it just didn't.
Maybe I'm just not the intellectual target of the book? This book assumes a basic knowledge of complex physics and physics theories, like String theory. Braden himself is intellectually superior to anyone else his age and his parents had tutored him in these matters since he was little, so there isn't really anyone to explain the foundations of these concepts to those of us who do not, in fact, understand basic physics.
While the plot and pacing are carefully executed and maintained throughout, it was difficult for me to follow along with the action and the plot felt weak to me. Things seem to happen without any explanation or motivation, which made both the character arc and the action arc of the story incomprehensible to me.
The writing, while beautifully evocative at some places, was quite abrupt at others and to me it felt a little heavy on the dialogue and a little light on the exposition. It does discuss advanced and probably intruiging theories regarding space, time and things like that, although I couldn't really relate to or follow along with those discussions.
It was easy to identify with Braden's character initially, though Kestrelle remained distant and alien to me (which may have been the author's intention). Braden's growth throughout the events is not really shown, though, and the unfolding of the plot was just too staccato and abstract for my personal tastes.
Who would like this book? Young adults and adults with a love and appreciation of physics and sci-fi or fantasy.