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    Action-packed adventure

    The aptly-named ‘Shadowzone’ is the first in a series by American author, Simon Rose. We see the action primarily through the eyes of Charlie, a girl who lives on a dystopic earth and Ben, a boy who inhabits a far more pleasant place, environmentally akin to the world we know. As we join the story, the two parallel universes look destined to merge as the barrier between them becomes weakened. The framework for the plot is conveniently explained with some useful backstory, courtesy of an inquisitive Charlie. I found the early chapters are a little disjointed as we moved between the two threads but I settled into the story after the main characters made contact. We find out quickly that Ben and Charlie are of school age but I’m not sure we’re actually told how old they are, unless I missed it. However in view of their general levels of intelligence and abilities, I would assume they are supposed to be at least twelve. Most of the action takes place on Charlie’s home planet which is reeling from the after-effects of a natural disaster. The author has painted a very atmospheric picture of the destruction and decay of this bleak, pollution-filled world which is potentially heading for oblivion and this provides an excellent backdrop. Most of the population are controlled via a variety of unpleasant means and we experience a sense of foreboding for their future. I think the characters could do with a little more depth but as this is the first in a series, there is time for them to develop. Several aspects of the plot are rather contrived but if the audience doesn’t overthink it, the tale is a fun read with some interesting ideas and it will appeal to pre-teens or teenagers who enjoy fantasy and sci-fi. I have an eight year old bookworm who liked the concept and coped well with the prose but struggled a bit with some of the plot. I’m sure the novel is aimed at slightly older readers but nonetheless, he is looking forward to another instalment. At 168 pages, the author has delivered an action-packed adventure which is quite short and straightforward. Parents need not be concerned regarding content as, whilst there are moments of heightened suspense, there is little overt violence and no adult themes. There are clearly more adventures ahead for Ben and Charlie and if Simon Rose can maintain this standard, I think his target audience will thoroughly enjoy finding out what happens next. I award ‘Shadowzone’ four stars.
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    A planet doomed by the effects of environmental ca

    This is the first book of a series by one of my favorite authors. Although at first, I found the book a little slow to get into, once the first couple of chapters were read, I found the usual exciting story that I could not put down until it was finished. The ending left me ready to read the next book titled “Into the Web.”
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