With the onslaught of the Twilight series and all the take-offs, I've distanced myself from the YA novels for several years now. Return to Exile aims at a younger audience and the author is from Utah so I decided to give it a try.
I got very excited at the first of the book. I loved Uncle Phineas and his clever & wise sayings, but then Phineas disappears. And so do his quotes. Ever hopeful that he would return or be found at some point in the story, I continued reading.
The main character, Sky Weathers, and his family move back to their hometown of Exile. Sky was born in Exile but never lived there. They arrive in town in the evening and the next day he attends his first day at school. I became confused because sometimes it seemed like the first day of school but at other times it seemed like he'd been there for several months, at least. I thought I had skipped some important parts of the chronology so I went back and reread a chapter. I didn't miss anything. I get frustrated when an author kind of mishmashes with your mind and I almost stopped reading.
Luckily, I didn't stop because things sailed along smoothly after the first day of school ended. I relaxed and let the 12-yr-old in my take over. It was an exhilarating ride. One I thoroughly enjoyed. I got confused with the names of the different monsters but I just shrugged it off - ends up I really didn't need to keep them all straight and the couple I needed to know I did know.
I have a 10-yr-old grandson that I thought might enjoy this book so as I read I thought what he would think about certain parts. He loved the Lightning Thief series and most recently finished the 1st in the Leviathan series. He told me that it was scary and went beyond his "threshold for scary." So I wondered about a few parts in Return to Exile, but I don't think it will exceed his threshold for scary. I told him he could read it as soon as I finished and then my 7th grade neighbor boy wants to read it. I love to foster a love for reading in anyone, but especially young boys.
There are several bookdarts marking some great passages, but I'll restrain myself and only share two:
"Power without understanding and self-mastery will always cost your humanity. Understanding must come first. To use a force and not understand it is like walking into a trap and mistaking the noose for your favorite pillow. To understand the nature of a thing, you must walk in its shadow, suffer as it suffers, and joy beside it. There is no understanding without struggle and sacrifice. There is no compassion without understanding. And power without compassion is the worst kind of evil there is."
"You can't expect to walk the same path he's walked and end up somewhere else. You step on his path, and you'll wind up just like him--friendless, scared, and trapped!"
The second in The Hunter's Chronicles will be out in December and I will definitely be reading it. (And then, giving it to Jeff for Christmas!)
** I received a free copy of Return to Exile from Simon & Schuster in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.