This book full of frozen speech had some interesting elements, but didn't quite do it for me
Prophet's Journey by Matthew S. Cox ★★
"Everyone in the Badlands knew her as the Prophet, the great healer, the child with the blue eyes that lit up like stars."
This e-book was gifted to me by Blackthorn Book Tours. This does not affect my review or opinion. All thoughts are my own and I'm being 100 per cent honest.
This novel was a difficult one for me. There are a lot of elements I really liked in this book, but a lot of elements that bothered me or just didn't felt that right. Overall the plot was interesting and it surely was something new, I haven't read anything like it. Sadly, there were too many things that weren't properly elaborated or were just plain boring.
The story is about a little girl called Althea. Althea struggles to adapt to an unexpected twist in her life—not being kidnapped in six whole months. The strange police from the faraway city claim the abilities she thought of as magic are really ‘psionics,’ and say she is far stronger than anyone they have ever seen. Despite their curiosity, they let her remain in the Badlands to protect her from an evil they call corporations. Of course, Althea knows all too well how powerful her healing gift is. For most of her life, she’d been a prize taken in raids. Tribes have killed to own her, and she let them. But the Prophet is done being passive. Having a family changes everything. No longer afraid to use her powers to protect herself, Althea refuses to be taken again… even when corporate mercenaries find her.
I struggled a lot with this book. The first five chapters were really confusing and it was hard to concentrate while reading the pages. The author continuously introduces you to new characters and more importantly new words and 'vocabulary'. There are a lot of terms and names of groups of people, cities and other stuff like 'Before-Time', 'The Many' and 'Scrags'. It is quite confusing to have to keep up with all these new terms in the first couple of chapters.
Finally in chapter five, it gets interesting. I have to be honest, I got this book for reviewing purposes. If I had just picked this book up, I probably wouldn't have continued reading it because it was so hard to follow. I am glad I pushed through, because the story definitely got better and I read some cool and fascinating things. So if you're interested in reading Prophet's Journey, keep on pushing through! Even though the story got more interesting as different characters came into the story, the way the author handled all this was fairly disappointing and resulted in boring passages.
My first remark is that the world really confusing is. I thought the story was set in a fully post apocalyptic world but turns out there are modern cities and cities that are very primitive without any technology. To me, this wasn't clear from the beginning and it did bother me. As you keep reading Cox manages to make you understand how his world works and it gets interesting, you just have to get to that point. Though, I still think there are some inconsistencies in the story. Althea lives in a house with a toilet and a sink. She also has a tablet for learning purposes which displays holographic images. This all checks out until she goes to a river and says that everyone washes their clothes in the stream. Maybe I missed something, but it just doesn't check out. The story also starts at a point in Althea's life where she's been living in that city for 6 months. But then there's a scene in the book where she sees a stop sign for the first time and doesn't know what to do. All these little things, these little inconsistencies did annoy me.
Let's talk about the characters. I liked them. At first I didn't really appreciate Althea, but she started to grow on me. I think in the beginning the author really tried to make sure the reader knows Althea is a little girl who has no idea how the world works. But in the first few chapters, this image of Althea was constantly brought up. As you keep reading, you still see that innocent, childish side of her but it isn't as forced as in the beginning. The childish thoughts are integrated in the story and they're not thrown in your face as much. Cox introduces a lot of other interesting and cool characters later in the story.
The plot was something I actually really liked. Just the way it was handled, isn't my favorite thing. The whole idea of Althea being the Prophet and her being so special in this weird world was nice. The mix of this ancient and primitive cities with people with powers and the modern cities with technology felt kind of strange at first, but as you dive in the story it becomes so much clearer. The storyline was interesting and the things that happened to the main character were also amusing. The thing about this book is that it could've been 100 - 200 pages shorter and it would've been amazing. The author tries to hard to take you onto this epic journey by making all kinds of stuff happen but in the end he keeps repeating himself. I can image some people like this slow kind of story, but not me. The main villains in this story are the robots and I get that there are battles with them but they don't have to appear every other chapter. Or the times Althea is on a trip from one point to another and it's just boring. You could skip a lot of those pages and miss nothing important. Once in a while the main character appears at a new destination and the story gets intriguing. I'm ready to read more about it and know what's going to happen next, but then the same thing happens again. The author tries to stretch the situation/scene and it gets bland. It becomes repetitive. He spends too much time in one place without adding something new or interesting.
I did like his writing style, though. The way he explains situations the characters are in and write dialogues was nice. I didn't trip over the sentences he wrote, it was an easy style to read. There were some very clever things Cox put in the book. The way he calls words and sentences frozen speech. I really liked that part. It is for sure something I will never forget and probably even use sometimes. Or conversations between characters that are really funny. Also Althea being so 'dumb' and childlike led to a lot of funny moments.
I do want to say there are some things that you really should keep in mind before reading this book. Althea is supposedly 11 years old but has the mind of a 6 year old. There is a lot of talk of rape in the book, called 'wifeing' which I thought was unnecessary. Of course Althea can bring it up, she had a traumatic childhood even if she doesn't think about it that way. But the times the author talks about 'wifeing' are too many. The character brings it up, out of nowhere. Sometimes there's absolutely no lead to that thought. Althea also (accidentally) spies on a couple having foreplay. I felt really uncomfortable reading that passage. First of all because she is practicing voyeurism, but secondly she is very young and has the mind of a little kid of six year old. These things felt really wrong to me and that did affect my feeling towards the book.
For a book that has such long scenes, the ending was too short for me. Cox should've spent more time on return home, but maybe he'll do that in the next book in this series.
The cover is really pretty. I'm a sucker for nice covers. I think a lot of people choose a book based on the cover and for me this one is definitely a winner. Everything shown in the cover comes in the book.
As you can tell from my review, I have mixed feelings about this novel. There are certainly some things that I really enjoyed. But when I do the math, my opinion is mostly negative. So would I recommend this book in particular? No, I wouldn't recommend it if you're someone like me who likes a lot of action and does want to be surprised by a book. Would I read another book of Matthew S Cox? Yes, I definitely would read another one of his books. It's not because this particular book didn't do it for me, that his other books are the same.
About the author
Matthew S Cox is originally from South Amboy NJ and has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Since 1996, he has developed the “Divergent Fates” world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, The Awakened Series, The Harmony Paradox, the Prophet of the Badlands series, and the Daughter of Mars series take place.
His books span adult, young-adult, and middle-grade fiction in multiple genres, predominantly science fiction, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, and fantasy.
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, developer of two custom tabletop RPG systems, and a fan of anime, British humour, and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of humanity, reality, life, and what might happen after it.
He is also fond of cats, presently living with two: Loki and Dorian.