Title: Starchild: The Age of Akra (Book 1) | Author: Vacen Taylor | Publication Date: March 6, 2013 | Publisher: Odyssey Books | Pages: 135 | Recommended Ages: 10+ | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: When Mai is chosen to take a pilgrimage to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts to train with the oldest and wisest master of their people, an ancient prophecy is set in motion. The events to come have been predicted but are not unchangeable. When the Starchild returns to the planet of Sage, the foreknowledge of the prophecy begins to gain strength. Four children come together and become linked to the events that lie ahead. In The Age of Akra, the first stage of their journey has them facing the deadly spiderflax, only then to be confronted by a creature of the underworld, an evil Dementra called Amual. The struggle to bring peace to the world of powerful energies lies in the hands of these four children and a strange little lizard. And it will not come easy. This journey is only the beginning.
My Thoughts: Starchild: The Age of Akra is the first book in a new science fiction book series for middle grade authored by Australian author Vacen Taylor. Mai, the main protagonist in the story, sets off with her brother Long and her pet lizard Barka on a pilgrimage to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts to hone her skills as a thoughtbanker – that is, someone who can master the thought of others. Along the way, the duo come across the legendary “Starchild” named Akra who is prophesied to bring goodness and peace to all who inhabit the planet Sage.
Their path is filled with danger as they encounter the compassionless soundwavers who are the sentinels of the land; terrifying creatures living in the desert called sandgropers; the ominous darksealers; the deadly spiderflax and her hungry babies; and the final and most dangerous villain, Amual, a dementra from the underworld. And if that is not enough, the threesome must decide who they can trust along the way as they meet Sahib, an oracle who is both a lightsealer and darksealer and is the oracle of his people; and, Terra, a master earthfollower, who offers counsel along the way and ultimately sets the children on a quest to realize the prophecy. And this is only Book 1!
Starchild: The Age of Akra is an absolutely riveting read. The author wastes no time in orienting the reader into this fictional world reminiscent of Star Wars. In the first chapter, we are introduced to the main character Mai who has some very special gifts. She is ultra-cool as a character and I can see tween and teen girls just loving her. Long, her brother, provides the comic relief in the book with all his clever one-liners For example, facing a dangerous situation opposite a soulless soundwaver, Long says: “Nice hat…It’s kind of like an upturned bowl but not.” Their relationship really grows throughout the book as they begin to have more and more respect for each other as individuals.
The other fascinating character is the starchild himself, Akra. The author peels away the layers of his character more slowly as Akra’s powers develop. He is almost like a newborn baby, but grows more and more powerful as the story progresses. The other mysterious character is Sahib. Even though the summary of the book states that the four children are involved in bringing peace to the world, I feel Sahib’s character is under-developed and under-explored in comparison to the other three. I hope to see more of Sahib in the future books. All in all, the character development was excellent and I found myself totally drawn in to the characters.
To say that the amazingly imaginative world and setting Vacen Taylor has created in Starchild greatly appeals to my inner geek is a huge understatement. In chapter 1, Taylor sets the stage by describing (in just right amount of detail) the multilayered and complex social structure of the foreign planet Sage. We learn about the special gifts and powers of the various people who inhabit the planet such as thoughtbankers, lightsealers, darksealers, soundwavers, soulbankers, firerulers, waterclaspers, and earthfollowers – all of whom play a key role in Mai and Long’s journey. And then there are the antagonists: darkones, minions, the spiderflax, dementras, and more. Oh what an imagination! Loved it – more please!
My Bottom Line: Starchild: The Age of Akra is a riveting, well-written, and imaginative story featuring an intricate plot and stellar cast of characters that is sure to be thoroughly enjoyed by tweens, teens, and even adults who love a great science fiction tale. This is a real page-turner and I highly recommend this book to children aged 10 and older. I just loved it and to think the author has seven books planned for the series … I’m salivating.
* This book was provided to me by the author free-of-charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. The author is also participating in Book Promotion Services provided by MDBR.*
More Buzz About the Book
“What an imagination!! Absolutely fabulous. What a great read. The characters came to life so easily. Their physical descriptions have me a visual idea but their personalities evolved and developed quickly so they were my friends and heroes before very long. I cried when Mia was selected and was on the edge of my seat when it looked like Long wouldn’t make it. I couldn’t put it down. A very clever story with wonderful likable characters in amazing places with fascinating skills and weird animals. I went through a range is emotions with these characters where I wanted to hug them, love them, give them a good slap, protect and spend time with. I cannot wait for book 2. Highly recommend this series of books and hope they make a movie from it would be a blockbuster!!!” ~ 5 Star Review, Dannielle S., Goodreads
“Says, Emily (Vonda’s 15 yr old daughter) … I knew Mia was going to be a fun character to read about. Anyone who has a pet lizard is fun! I’m glad this is a series. I would read this first book again, just because it was so much fun to read. I think anyone, kid or not would be happy to read this book.” ~ 5 Star Review, Vonda N., Amazon
“An adventure on a grand scale of four children and their lizard on their journey to the valley of a thousand thoughts. This book is suitable for both girls and boys and will appeal to any one that enjoys an adventure, as well as being science fiction, and creating a wondrous world that takes the reader along on that journey. Looking forward to the next book in the series” ~ 5 Star Review, homeport UK, Amazon
“Masterfully told from different viewpoints, Starchild is neither a “boy” nor “girl” book, but rather an everyone book. Struggling readers will enjoy the simple truths of the characters, and more advanced readers will delight in the journey of Mai, Long, and Akra. A journey that introduces multifaceted characters, whom I hope will make an appearance in subsequent titles in The Starchild Series, because I’m already attached to them. Even the slightest of creatures was placed in Starchild with the greatest of skill, care, and thought. Outstanding job, Ms. Taylor, and I look forward to continuing my journey through the series.” ~ 5 Star Review, C. Bullard, Amazon
“This book is amazing! I especially loved the selection process, wondering why this was happening and what would be the outcome. I particularly enjoyed the concept of the nations and their powers. It flows really quickly with no boring bits. I’m in high school and I enjoyed it…”~ 5-Star review from M.I. Saunders, Goodreads
About the Author: Vacen Taylor
Vacen Taylor is an Australian author, writer, occasional artist and amateur photographer. She loves creating stories for children and reading to her young readers. She is a happy person with a zest for life and exploring the world at large. Vacen collects comics and loves superheroes. Her favourite superhero is Spider-Man. Vacen also believes in expressing the uniqueness of self. She has had several short stories published for adults online. Starchild is her first novel for children and is the first book in a series of seven.
* Giveaway *
Prize: There will be one winner who will receive a print copy of Starchild: The Age of Akra (Book 1) by Vacen Taylor + a $10 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.
Contest runs: January 30 to February 10, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Vacen Taylor and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
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