Thursday, 24 July 2014

Review Tour: Boulton Quest Series — N. D. Richman

I have two reviews today - for Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys and Sinners, Survivors and Saints which are book one and two in the Boulton Quest series. This series is aimed at young adults (/middle graders) with 'the reluctant reader in mind'. If you're an adult reader looking to delve into a young adult book full of action, adventure and mystery then you should check this book out as well!

Official Synopsis for Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys

Their parents are kidnapped in a home invasion and Christopher and Michael must unite or die in their quest to find them. Adventure turns to mystery when the brothers follow a hunch leading them over the Pacific Coast Mountains, across the ocean, and to a fortified island where they fight for their lives with tragic results.

Official Synopsis for Sinners, Survivors and Saints

Christopher and Michael become multi-millionaires and their greed endangers Katherine's life. While Christopher, Michael and Thomas are racing to rescue her, Robert Cain’s army steals the mysterious machine and his frightening intentions become clear.

Can Michael beat his inner demons?

Will Katherine lose the will to survive?

In this exciting sequel to Brothers, Bullies and Bad the future becomes clear, and it seems things can only get worse.

Review for Brothers, Bullies and Bad Guys

Packed full of action suitable for younger audiences, Richman does a great job at painting a vivid picture while remaining engaging.

As an older reader I feel I’m a bit better equipped to guess plots and twists because of the amount of stories I have been exposed to. The family reveal towards the end of the book was something I guessed right in the beginning, but I don’t feel it was explored that well in terms of changing family dynamics or emotions. I’m not sure this book was really concerned with exploring friendship, family and feelings. Sure, those themes arise, but they aren’t greatly elaborated or developed. I think for reluctant readers, which is the target audience for this book, that might a good thing. Some reluctant readers may consider books a place for emotions and other touchy-feely topics they are not interested in, whereas television and films offer action packed explosions, car races and fights.

This book did not contain as much action as your typical Transformer movie, but I feel there was still a lot going on. There was an explosion, cars and guns, among other things. However, Richman did a great job of not glorifying that sort of behaviour or situation. Younger readers who are more prone to action packed television might find themselves enjoy this series.

While the ages of the achievements of the characters given their young age and upbringing seem pretty unlikely (okay, it’s a story, but I still like things that seem plausible), I feel younger readers will be able to relate to the main characters based on their age and roles. Of the four children/teenagers within the book, there is only one female who serves as a light love interest and defender of her young brother. The males are more varied with one playing the role of responsible older brother, younger boy genius slash trouble maker and bullied ‘runt’. I think most people could probably place themselves into one of those categories.

The language is varied and Richman paints scenes with great detail. For readers lacking confidence, this could feel a little challenging, but that is not a bad thing. Richman does a great job of making sure every reader is pulled into the world s/he has created.

This book probably meets most, if not all, of the requirements for its target audience. There are some parts which seem completely disjointed from the rest of the story, for example the visions of the future and seeing a ghost for no apparent reason. This made me question what the purpose of those elements was. It seems to provide an easy explanation for some of the actions performed by characters, and perhaps that is the only reason they exist within the story. Or perhaps something will be revealed later on in the series which explains these occurrences. Regardless of this and the lack of exploration of a few themes I think could have been capitalised on, this book was engaging and pleasant.

Review for Sinners, Survivors and Saints

I feel that the majority of my review from book one applies to book two. Richman adds such detail that even those who claim not to have an imagination will be picturing the scenes within the book. 

Again, the potential to explore family dynamics and the changes in relationships is not used. There is a few off handed mentions, but no real development or exploration. This makes the characters feel a little stiff, but I think this book is really written with action in mind rather than anything else.

In each book the adults, who are meant to be protecting their children, seem to get weaker and more powerless. Maybe this is just taking advantage of young people’s desires to save themselves and others without the help of adults. It is not really the kind of thing I appreciate within a story, but in this context it works and is explained. 

We have the ghost popping up again for no reason that I can see, besides to service as a frail reason why some things happened as they did. I feel like this doesn’t fit with the rest of the story which seems based in the real-ish, non-paranormal and non-fantasy world. You could say there is a bit of sci-fi given the mention of a time machine, but there still isn’t an explanation for single ghost. Given the ghost is question did not receive a whole lot of attention, development or explicit connection to the characters she is visiting; I feel it’s even more odd. But, that is a very minor issue I have with the book. Perhaps younger readers are more accepting of ghosts popping up unexplained in their books.

While I like that Katherine had some chapters to herself to demonstrate some girl-power, I feel in comparison to other sections of the book it was a little dull. I did appreciate the reveal of her character background, however and maybe it was a little cliché to have her reflecting on her past when she might soon die, it was nice to know she had some depth to her character.

I think this book is as good as the first and provides a brilliant set up to a face-off with the ultimate villain. 

1 comment:

  1. Hello Jessica,

    Thank you for your very kind reviews of the Boulton Quest Series of books. I'm glad you enjoyed them and appreciate the time and effort you put into reading and reviewing the books.

    Thanks again!

    David Richman


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