Title: Ragesong: Awakening | Author: J.R. Simmons | Publication Date: January 11, 2014 | Publisher: Magic Unleashed | Pages: 283 | Recommended Ages: 13+ | Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary: 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.
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1. What is the book about? This book is about two kids named Jake and Samantha who are brought to the land of Fermicia by two Changelings, named Joraus and Swyf who have watched over them all their lives.
2. What do you think of the book cover? I thought the cover was really cool.
3. What are your favorite parts of the book? I liked the part when they all enter the portal to Fermicia because I like it when people first arrive at a destination that they never even thought existed.
4. Is there anything you didn’t like or that didn’t make sense? I didn’t like how there was a lot of violence and a lot of violent deaths.
5. Who was the cooler Changeling – Joraus or Swyf? If you could change into animal, what would you change into?
I thought the cooler Changeling was Swyf because she was fun. If I could change into any animal, I would choose a kangaroo because I would be able to jump really high.
6. Overall, what did you think about the book? I thought the book was really awesome and I couldn’t put it down. Other than the violence it was amazing.
7. Who do you think would like this book? I think kids 12 and older would like this book just because it is really violent but it’s a great story.
My Thoughts: Ragesong: Awakenings opens with the city of Foldona in the land of Fermicia under siege. In order to protect the kingdom from his foe Brael, the young King Klyle sends his two loyal friends, Joraus and Swyf, two mystical Changelings, through a portal to another world (Earth) seeking out the saviors, two musically-inclined 13 year-old children, Jake and Samantha. Tasked with bringing them back to Fermicia to help liberate the tyranny of Brael, Joraus and Swyf watch over the two babies waiting for them to show signs of readiness.
When they begin to appear in their blue fairy form to Jake and Samantha, Joraus and Swyf know that, after several long years, the time has come to help the children travel through the portal back to Fermicia. Upon their arrival, the mystical power of “Ragesong” slowly awakens in the children giving them magical abilities to wield weapons and fight their enemies with tactical precision and speed that is unimaginable in our world. With the energy of Ragesong coursing through their veins and their friends the Changelings fighting by their side, Jake and Samantha must travel through this foreign land fighting varied creatures such as the Rugals (large black birds), scurs, as well as the evil Brael’s personally trained army of warriors called the “Elite”, in order to liberate the rightful ruler of the land, Klyle.
Ragesong had me completely spell-bound from the opening pages right through to the conclusion of this first book in the series. Before the story even begins, the author includes a map of Fermicia so that the reader can have a point of reference for the locations mentioned in the story. This reminded me very much of the opening map in The Lord of the Rings. There was also a pronunciation guide to help with the foreign names and places, such as Joraus (Johr-ahs), Fermicia (Fir-me-sea-uh), and Brael (Brale). I think kids in particular (ok, maybe even adults) would find this tremendously helpful.
I also liked how the concept of “Ragesong” was described (or perhaps more aptly, not described) in the story. It is meant to be something mystical or mythical that gives an individual great power; but importantly, the Changelings, when trying to explain the concept of “Ragesong”, cannot provide a concrete explanation. We know that it is connected to music and that it manifests itself differently in different individuals giving them extraordinary fighting skills (generally speaking). What I found very interesting was that Ragesong also has a dark side and Jake, on occasion, fell under its spell, hinting that he will experience a pull to the dark side. This reminded me of Star Wars and Anakin Skywalker experiencing “the dark side of the force”. I can clearly see the influence in this regard and it will be interesting to see where the author takes Jake on his journey exploring the power of “Ragesong”.
Ok, here I go… the book has a great deal of violence in it. There I said it. In the opening paragraph of the book, the king is staring out his window gazing upon the unmoving (dead) bodies sprawled in the mud. There is a whole lot of death in this book. Further, the young characters are placed in the position of having to kill other characters. If I had to make a comparison, I would say that the level of violence is similar to The Hunger Games. That being said, the author does not glamorize the violence nor does he provide grisly details of the deaths and in fact, the children’s ambivalence (Jake’s in particular) is evident. To be clear, I really enjoyed the story, but because of the level of violence, I cannot recommend it for children under the age of 13 (in the same way that I don’t believe children under the age of 12 should be reading The Hunger Games). This one is Young Adult through and through (in my opinion).
My Bottom Line: J.R. Simmons has woven a spell-binding story filled with thrills, suspense, and magic. Ragesong takes place in a parallel world called Fermicia linked to Earth by a portal. The plot is filled with twists and turns and features a diverse well-developed cast of humans as well as magical beings. The story had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, but I must warn readers that there is a high level of violence and death (although this is not dwelt upon nor described in great detail). As such, I would recommend the book to children ages 13 and older who love the fantasy genre. I loved it!
* This book was provided to us by the author free-of-charge in exchange for our honest reviews. All opinions expressed are our own. *