Author: Robert Mwangi
Genre: Contemporary YA
First Published: 2012
Page Count: 168
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Note: Book 1 in the A Lion in America series
At the core of this book is an inspiring and suspenseful tale, but its structure and other errors keep it from reaching its full potential.
* Interesting look at the preservation of culture *Thrilling story
*Many grammatical errors *Poor beginning
“I want you to remember Africa and where you come from.” James grew up in an African village, but he also experienced life in the city pursuing his dream of becoming a soccer star in school so that he could make his way to America on a scholarship. However, his American dream is put on hold when his fiance is kidnapped by a mysterious force in the deep African jungle near his village. He suspects this is the same force who has kidnapped other children, including his older brother, many years ago. Now he must venture into the wild African jungle and discover more about himself, his past, and what has been terrorizing his village for years.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this story by the end of the book. Half of the book’s momentum comes from the various suspenseful events that are genuinely thrilling and the other half comes from the author’s take on what it means to preserve one’s culture. The story itself is an interesting mystery the reader has to unravel but I like how the novel has a bigger message about how we should preserve our culture and what’s important to preserve. In this day and age in America, everything seems to blend together in a melting pot of culture. To see the struggles that African youth go through in modern times where they grow up in a medieval village but are aware of the modern world an hours drive away makes you realize how stuck they are between two very different worlds and it’s a part of growing up that we don’t experience in America.
Though the story itself was fascinating, the way it was written really held it back for me. There are a lot of grammatical errors, which take away from any story. However, on top of that, the beginning of the story does not equal what is written in the rest of the novel. The author first introduces us to the mystery of the jungle and the kidnappings, which piques your interest, and then the story jumps to the main character’s life in high school playing soccer and completely drops the kidnapping plot until later in the story. That segment of the story was extremely boring for me and messed up the thrilling groove the author had placed me in with the mystery of the jungle. The soccer portion of the story does play a role in the conclusion but there needs to be a better way to incorporate it into the story. Because of the disconnect in the beginning, it’s hard to get into the book initially.
I was torn about giving this book a “pick it” or “skip it” review because I truly enjoyed the story and think it has great potential. However, I can’t in my heart recommend this book because, in the condition it is in, it is not yet readable as a legitimate novel. With some solid editing this book would definitely be one I’d pass on to friends and I even think it could be a great contender for a film adaptation since there really is nothing like this out there on the market. But until there are some corrections I can’t recommend the book because it’s not at its full potential yet.
*I received a free copy of this book for this review from the author.