Book Review: Ragesong: Awakening by J.R. Simmons

18361383Title: Ragesong: Awakening
Author: J.R. Simmons
Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

When the peaceful kingdom of Fermicia is enslaved by a power-hungry renegade, its only hope lies in a band of unlikely heroes: two children whose musical abilities allow them to harness the power of Ragesong, and their shape-changing guides.

Jake starts his first day of junior high completely oblivious to the fact that he has been chosen for something incredible. That same afternoon, he learns that he has been marked as one with the power to save an entire kingdom. Through the course of his journey, Jake discovers that his advanced musical abilities are peculiarly connected to a mysterious power known as Ragesong. Joined by a shy, young girl with similar musical talents and two Changelings that hold a fierce loyalty to their homeland and king, Jake must learn to harness this ability in order to survive the dangers of a hostile new world.

Ragesong: Awakening is the story of Jake and Sam, who get transported to a magical world where they have to learn to use their new, magical abilities. In the style of The Neverending Story and The Wizard of Oz, they must save the kingdom, and meet an entire cast of colorful characters along the way. This book seemed like an excellent read for middle graders and young adults. It was strong of the fantasy part, and the world building was pretty decent as well. The kingdom of Fermicia is ruled by Ragesong, an addictive sort of magic linked to physical abilities and musical instruments.

The characters were okay. Teenage boys can probably relate to Jake. I thought the transition from the regular world to Fermicia was a bit sloppy, and the first chapters a little slow, but once they ended up in Fermicia, the pacing quickened and the story began pulling me in. The plot was all right, even though not always entirely original, it was still intriguing enough to keep me reading.

The writing, however, could’ve used some work. There’s a lot of telling instead of showing, and the book is dominated by adverbs. Like for instance, in the first chapter, we get this:

Klyle did not turn immediately, but continued to gaze somberly at the destruction before him. “Why has it come to this?” he asked quietly, not expecting an answer.

Now, I may be nagging here, but ‘somberly’ and ‘quietely’ really ruin this sentence for me. And it’s like that throughout the entire book. We get this, a page or so later:

Reaching in, he carefully pulled something out before securing the lid and resetting it. Returning to face the humanoid creatures, he eyed them speculatively.

Already, the sentence structure is a little awkward because of the way both these sentences are set up. But then ‘carefully’ and ‘he eyed them speculatively’ really ruin it.

If it wasn’t for this, I would’ve truly enjoyed the book. Now I struggled to keep reading during the first few chapters because of the writing. Once I got pulled into the story though, I began to look past this, but it still bothered me a little.

If you like fantasy, give Ragesong: Awakening a shot, but if you’re allergic to adverbs, you may want to stay away.


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