BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the middle grade fantasy, “Initiation: Sky Raiders Academy, Book One” by Kirstin Pulioff from April 3 – April 24, 2016.
About the Book
Title: Initiation: Sky Raiders Book One | Author: Kirstin Pulioff | Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Number of Pages: 150 | Publication Date: March 27, 2017
Summary: Tommy feels lost after his father’s death. To make matters worse, his mom moves him to a new town where he doesn’t have any friends, and he quickly becomes a punching bag for the school bully. He can’t win. So, when a mysterious visitor approaches him with the promise of adventure, Tommy jumps at the opportunity.
Whisked away to a school in the sky where magic rules and storms are forged by an elite group of Sky Raiders, Tommy learns that the world’s problems are much larger than his own.
When the weather spirals out of control and a rogue Raider’s diabolical plans surface, Tommy must decide how much he is willing to risk to save the world.
Initiation is the first book in a new series (Sky Raiders Academy) by middle grade author Kirstin Pulioff. Crossing the science fiction and magical realism genres, Initiation takes us on a journey through the eyes of 11 year-old Tommy, a boy who has just lost his father and moves with his mother to small town America to stay on his uncle Joe’s llama farm. Much to Tommy’s dismay, he has a hard time fitting in with his new classmates and immediately draws the attention of the school’s bully, Devan. When Tommy feels that things couldn’t possibly get worse, a mysterious man with ties to his dead father, Mr. Bellarium, offers him a unique opportunity to attend Sky Raider Academy – a school where children learn how to manage the weather. But more importantly, this is an opportunity for Tommy to discover what really happened to his father.
Struggling with adjusting to his new life, Sky Raider Academy offers a glimmer of hope to Tommy as he makes two new friends (Will and Rachel) and walks in his Dad’s footsteps learning how to study weather patterns, control lightning, and paint sunrises and sunsets. It doesn’t take long for Tommy to realize that Devan is not the only danger he faces. A far more dangerous foe – an unknown saboteur – is interfering with weather dispersal causing devastating storms and floods across the globe. Could this be the same person who killed his father? Tommy must find the courage within himself to pursue the saboteur and uncover their evil plan.
Initiation is a fun-filled adventure transporting the reader into a fantasy realm, the Sky Raider Academy. The input of the author’s students is evident in the capture of the protagonist’s emotions and thoughts; in the descriptions of the schools and classmates; and, in the creative elements of the Academy’s setting and curriculum. I was immediately drawn in and sympathetic to Tommy’s character as we discover that his father has died, he moves to a new school, and then struggles to fit into his new situation. I found myself totally invested in what happens to Tommy. The long list of secondary characters such as his Mom, uncle Joe, Mustang Mountain Elementary school and Sky Raider Academy staff, classmates, and friends all play key roles in the story although I found myself wanting to know more about some of the characters (e.g., uncle Joe, Will, and Rachel). Hopefully more light will be shed on some of these characters in future books.
The plot itself will keep young readers hooked. The opening chapter is a bit dark (we immediately learn of Tommy’s death) but I think that many middle grade children will identify with Tommy’s character as he navigates significant changes in his life and is the victim of bullying. There are many themes touched upon in the story including the impact of bullying; the importance of family and friends; and finding the courage to solve problems despite being faced with obstacles. The only comment I would like to make regarding the plot is that it made me a bit uncomfortable that Tommy (with Leo’s help) decided to seek revenge on Devan (the bully) instead of identifying and using resources to deal with the bullying in a different way. While the action Tommy took was relatively mild, I still feel that this wasn’t the right direction. In real life, seeking revenge (or retaliation) would likely result in an escalation in bullying. This was a tiny part of the story, so I don’t want to blow this point out of proportion. The bullying and its effects were captured effectively.
Overall, Initiation was a fun read featuring an exciting adventure, a sympathetic main character, and just the right amount of intrigue. I’m excited for this new series by one of my favorite middle grade Indie authors, Kirstin Pulioff and I can’t wait to see how the story continues in Book 2. I recommend this book to children ages 8 to 12.
* This book was provided to me by BeachBoundBooks free-of-charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. *
About the Author
Kirstin Pulioff dreams big, wishes on stars, searches for rainbows, finds treasure in everyday blessings, and lives life to its fullest… Happily married and a mother of two, she lives in the foothills of Colorado. When she’s not writing an adventure, she’s busy living one.
She loves to hear from fans.
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