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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Velwythe: Resurrection of the Mind by Bonn Turkington

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "His mother vanished. His father killed himself. Vaan, now 21, has no friends, no money, no family, and no hope. All his dreams have vanished. Unable to escape the horror of his own memories, his life has been in stasis. But with a bit of luck and  a bit of effort Vaan manages to make his first real friend since childhood. Duncan, a man who has watched the growing railline destroy his entire home city, was disowned after denying his birthright. Vaan and Duncan become fast friends with troubled pasts. Now, with Duncan's help and the 'encouragement' of a local priest, Vaan decides his life has remained in a quagmire too long. Only by selling his house and everything he owns will he have a chance to become a wandering scholar. Every year around the FreePort Solstice Festival (and his birthday) Vaan has terrible nightmares of his father's chronic pain. But the night before the festival Vaan has a dream unlike any before. He wakes up thinking he has gone blind--but it isn't just that, he can feel something, something cold pawing at his head as though it is absorbing his very thoughts. After the horrible dream, leaving FreePort isn't just about getting an education. Ellred, a local priest, tells Vaan there could be more to his non-dream than he could ever imagine. But the only way to figure any of it out is if Duncan agrees to travel with Vaan to the very place Duncan can never return. And on their way to Alpine, Vaan's encounter with a small militia forces him to question his understanding of humanity and the very reality he thought to be true for so many years. But Velwythe is more than just the story of Vaan and Duncan. Visit Velwythe.com to explore the world Vaan and Duncan explore, participate in the story by communicating with the characters, vote on issues that will change not only the future books but the entire world and much, much more. No book world has been so complete and so accessible. Velwythe, not just a book, a whole new world."

I did not read this synopsis before I started the book, and I probably should have. It took me awhile to get into the book, and I was just starting to enjoy it when, at page 198 (out of 308), I reached the Epilogue. Huh? Doesn't the Epilogue usually come at the end of the book? I was just starting to like Vaan and Duncan and to care about what happened to them. I felt excited for Vaan's future and what it might hold.....and then the book ended with over 100 pages left. I was really confused. The Epilogue went back to what happened in the Prologue and actually maybe answered some questions while asking some more. The rest of the book was a history of the land of Velwythe and descriptions of the different places there. It also described how to go to Velwythe.com and interact with the book there.

This is a very clever idea. I went to Velwythe.com and took a look around, and there is a lot to look at. I found it overwhelming and a bit confusing, but I bet with time it could be very interesting.  At the website you are able to read more about the history of the places in the book, and supposedly suggest ideas and write articles for the lands' newspapers. Mr. Turkington has put a lot of effort into the site. I never found out where you go to add a city to the map or things like that, but it could be entertaining. Mr. Turkington will then take what happens online and add it to the following books.

It's a very clever idea; however, it is not for me. I barely have enough time to read a book, so I definitely do not have time, or the interest, to explore an online world. I think it may be really good for a teenage boy (or girl) who loves to game online because it will tie reading into online interaction. At the same time, I'd much rather my children not interact online and just read.....but if it's a way to get a child to read then it could be good. I did end up liking the story, but with all the other stuff I don't think I'll read the following books. I don't know if I'll let my children read it either, because my oldest is only ten, and although he could read the story just fine, I don't want him spending time living in an online world.

The book is fairly well written. There are some typos, it is a little slow at the beginning, and a few places are a bit confusing, but overall it is well written and easy to read. Vaan's character development is good, and I found Ellred intriguing. I liked Duncan and Jonas as well, and would have liked to learn more about them.

Rating: PG-13 (Violence, death, some scary creatures)

Recommendation: This is a hard one. I'm going to say 14 and up just because I think teenagers  may really like it, and it may pull them into reading. On the flip side, I don't know if it's healthy for younger children to get too involved with an online world.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.

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