Ragesong: Awakening by J.R. Simmons
(Summary taken from amazon.com) "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."
This book completely surprised me! It grabbed me from the start. It is written well, and I really enjoyed it. The characters make this book. Mr. Simmons' character development is very good. Jake and Sam are so cute and remind me of my son and my niece. They're innocent and cute. They're past cooties, but haven't started the "crush" stage yet. They are actually both talented with different instruments, and they like having fun. They have also been able to rise to meet different challenges in their lives. The Changelings, Joraus and Swyf, are fun characters too. I thought it was interesting how they changed into different animals. It is a lot more complicated than you may think. Their personalities are serious with a touch of playfulness. They know when to have fun and when to be no-nonsense. I loved the game they played with each other, and I enjoyed their flirting and their budding romance. The story line, although a little far-fetched, was great. I thought it was well thought out and felt realistic enough to keep me tuned in. I did think it was a bit much to ask two thirteen-year-olds to save the world, but it has been done before, right?? (Harry Potter, Fablehaven, Farworld) I loved the idea of Ragesong, and how it connected with the musical instruments. It was very unique, creative, and I liked how it connected with their physical abilities.
This book didn't have any profanity at all (thank you!) and no intimacy. A budding romance and maybe a small kiss, but that's it. There is quite a bit of violence in this book, and that is the only thing making me give it an older rating. Quite a few people die, and some of them in gruesome ways. Some of the descriptions are quite detailed and gory. I did like it that Jake didn't want to kill anyone, and when he did he was remorseful. I thought that made him a stronger character. I did enjoy this book and do recommend it with the previous warnings.
Rating: PG-13 (Violence, some of it gory, gruesome, and detailed.)
Recommendation: 13 and up. (YA approved!!!)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.