Krono Academy (Part One), by Joshua Alan Finnigan
Context: So, late last week a friend of mine connected me with a young writer in the Pacific Northwest with whom I share a few friends, although I do not know him personally. After expressing a willingness to review the manuscript given my voracious reading habits as a whole , I received a 75-page .doc file, and promised a rigorous and critical review. This is a fulfillment of that commitment, and will be formatted differently than my usual book reviews because this is written as an educational exercise more than my usual reviews. We will take a look at this particular book in a much more detailed fashion and examine what sort of story it tells and how the elements of the novel work together.
Genre/Plot: This is a well-constructed plot, and fits squarely in the “stranger comes to town” tradition of young adult adventure novels. The plot doesn’t sag and there is a lot of genuinely enjoyable writing. The author knows how to work his way around a plot and it even gives a nod to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts as an obvious inspiration.
Characters: The novel focuses on a bromance between Eric and Carter, who begin as normal kids (we think), before we find out that Eric is the grandchild of a time traveler, and before Carter gets stranded. Their separation forms the core conflict of the plot, where Eric is set up as the innocent stand-in for the audience in this strange world of parallel universes and a small cadre of time cops and students, who are pretty obviously set up like high school students. Eric has no game and stumbles his way around his pretty classmates, but manages to be more successful than some of this book’s readers are likely to be with the fairer sense, even if the romance Eric pursues is directly contrasted with his supposed faithfulness as a best friend to Carter. I am curious to see how this resolves itself, as there are at least a few homoerotic jokes included about some of Eric’s classmates.
Style: Overall, this novel has an excellent style, with an effective mix of dialogue and a limited third person perspective that focuses on Eric, who is appealingly clueless. There was one distracting typo on the first page where Eric’s insane (?) mother is called schyzo instead of schizo. Descriptions are on point and help the book read vividly, and the book ends on a cliff-hanger. The author has certainly read and internalized a great deal of excellent fantasy and young adult literature, and it shows.
Overall: This is an appealing work overall. I am a bit unsure of what kind of relationship angle the author is intending between Eric and Carter, as they consider each other friends but bicker like they are involved in a bad bromance. The massive scope of the cosmology of the book and the extremely small number of protagonists raises the potential for massive mischief, as there are some serious trust issues when there is so much space and time to explore and so few cops, some of them (like the mysterious villain X) so untrustworthy, and where even good guys like Orion are not entirely with the program. This promises to be an interesting fantasy novel series, assuming that the author doesn’t get writer’s block.
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