Author: Geoffrey C. Saign
Publisher: KiraKu Press
Publication date: June 19th 2014
Source: MD Book Reviews
Buy at: BookDepository
Samantha and her neighbor, Jake, have no idea that Samantha’s best friend, a parrot named Charlie, is a thousand years old. Charlie is also at the center of a secret battle between an ancient, evil man’s monsters and magical creatures. When Charlie asks Samantha and Jake to protect him, they are chased by monsters from both sides. To save Charlie, and two worlds, Samantha and Jake have twenty-four hours to figure out how to use the supernatural staff, WhipEye, and find the courage to confront what they fear most…
I sadly had to DNF this book. Despite its overall good reviews, this just isn’t for me. I know, I know. Theoretically, it has most everything I love in a story: fantasy, friendship, a reminder of the importance of nature, and adventure. But it didn’t quite agree with me. You see I need more than just these elements. I need to believe in the world, to be immersed in the story even if only a little. But in the 175 pages I read, that was impossible.
It all begins with the fact that the fantasy world itself doesn’t feel credible – and I don’t say that only because the book seems to promote and demote evolution all at once. Indeed, it says nature is “its own person”, and it claims mankind is horrid for enacting change. However, nature itself has always been about change. It’s not static like the book assumes it to be. Mankind had nothing to do with the appearance of amphibians for one. I get what the author wanted to do, but the execution left much to be desired. After all, when writing MG, one should be especially cautious with information. Children often learn more from fiction than schoolbooks, and there are enough misconceptions about nature and evolution as it is.
But no. It wasn’t just that. I just couldn’t buy the setting.
That was probably because I couldn’t feel anything in particular for the characters themselves. They felt rather flat and, at times, annoying. As nice as it may be to have a character identifying every species she sees and spewing out a fact about them, it feels far-fetched for the said character to do so while being closely followed by someone they fear. Changing one’s mind almost out of the blue consecutive times doesn’t feel right either. One thing is to see an indecisive person jumping from one conclusion to the other. Another is to see no indecision and no apparent thought process between the jumps from “yes” to “no”.
Plus, if a lot of books have instalove, WhipEye has instafriendship. Whilst at the beginning Samantha claims to hate Jake, in the space of a couple of hours, she not only calls him friend but says she can’t imagine going on without him. She even paints a horrid picture of what it would be to not have Jake around. Everyone can change their opinion on another person, but so quickly and after so much initial animosity? That’s not so easy.
Maybe this could’ve been pulled off better if it weren’t for the writing itself. Although Saign did his research on animals (or so I assume as I didn’t cross check facts), knowing how to weave a sentence and how to keep an even pace are two vital assets to any good book. This one had a too simple language (not in the words themselves but in the way they were used), and a clumpy pacing that would go from a rushed madness to the equivalent of watching the grass grow. Not to mention that I find it hard to believe that it’d be possible to chat amicably with your friends while your arch-nemesis is following close on your tail.
Another issue I had was that some things just felt… silly. Midway through the story a character reveals to have been manipulating others. These others instead of being angry or even slightly miffed, grin and prise the manipulator’s cleverness almost immediately. Whilst I accept that some people would be fine with manipulation if for a good cause, I can’t imagine anyone being ecstatic over it. And definitely not right after finding out. Isn’t everyone’s initial reaction annoyance at the very least?
No. This book is not for me. As much as I love fantasy, I need to feel it’s grounded onto something to believe in it and enjoy it. Sadly, I could not do so with WhipEye. Nonetheless, if you’re not one to scrutinise a story and would like to read something different, this might be a good option.