Revenge by Luxi Li

Revenge, LiBookSurge Publishing, 2009
ISBN-13:  978-1439215890

Lilyannie Minwood lives in the town of Yonder, which is split into two factions by the dark and dangerous Forest of Images.  With the help of her mysterious magical gift — about which she herself knows very little — and her friend William, she must fight to save her world from a deadly feud, as well as a rapidly-spreading epidemic.

As I write this review, I am glaringly aware that this book was crafted by a seventh grader, and of the very real possibility that she may read this.  I plan to take these facts into account with regard to what I say, but it is also true that this book is published (through Booksurge, a self-publishing aid) and on the market, and as such must be evaluated with respect to consumer expectations.

The truth is, this book is clearly the work of a child.  The writing is impatient, typical of the author’s age group, and lacking many aspects that flesh a book out and make it marketable.  The narrative hops from point to point (characteristic again of young writers in a hurry to tell their tale), and is thus choppy and at times difficult to follow.  We are never given physical descriptions of the characters, not so much as hair and eyes colors (it is page 78 before we learn William’s age, and page 118 before we learn Lily’s).  The dialogue, with the exception of a few decent passages, tends to be awkward and unclear, with very little emotional connection.  Characters do not gesture or wear expressions as they speak, and other characters’ reactions to the dialogue/action are minimal at best.  The setting — pertaining to time period, description, even whether the subjects are inside or outside — is consistently undefined.  The plot itself does not hold up under scrutiny, and is linear and wandering.

As a small aside, sexist stereotypes as well are present in Revenge, enforcing the ideas that girls don’t play sports, need to be protected by boys, and should be married by the age of twenty.  This disturbed me as a potential commentary on today’s youth, and the possible regression their views are taking.  In addition, there is a small section (page 65) involving a phoenix and a snake that inevitably recalls J.K. Rowling’s Chamber of Secrets.

This review no doubt seems harsh — in reality, Luxi Li does not lack writing ability, and she undeniably has an active and bountiful imagination to go along.  Over time, her skills will develop.  For now, she faces the same struggles all writers her age face — learning to slow down, and get all of her ideas (descriptions in particular) from her head onto paper.  I am certainly not one to say that young people are incapable of accomplishing great things — but experience is against them, and it takes an incredible amount of grueling hard work to make a novel publishable, even for adults.

To conclude, while for a twelve-year-old this book is certainly an achievement to be celebrated, Revenge is simply not competitive with the wide market of books available.

1/5 stars

— Reviewer Anonymous

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