I am not a fan of books in a series that do not also work as stand-alone novels, which Freshmen (The Felix Chronicles Book 1) doesn't quite. But up to that disappointing fact at the very end, and after the too-long prologue, I enjoyed it very much.
Felix Chronicles is a YA novel about Felix and his gang of pals during their freshman semester at Portland College. Felix, who recently lost his parents in a tragic accident, discovers his true identity as the Belus, a mighty sorcerer charged with saving the world from the evil Drestianite sorcerers and the Protectors, assassins pledged to destroying all sorcerers. Add to this the pressure of finals, a serial killer stalking only children, a crush he's afraid to pursue and the mystery of nearby Ashfield Forest, where people go in but they do not come out, and what a semester it turns out to be!
That may sound overwrought, but author R.T. Lowe (@TheRTLowe on twitter) is a skilled writer and manages it all well, the story carries one along and the characters are likable. With the caveat mentioned above, recommended.
(I received a free copy in exchange for writing an unbiased review.)
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This satire was first published in 1977, but its biting commentary still registers strongly today. Aliens trained in Western pop culture disguise themselves as well-known figures and embark on two intersecting tasks: judging humankind’s readiness to join the interstellar community, and searching for a ruthless criminal. Scott carries on the tradition of Mark Twain, using outside observers to remark on society. While the treatment of women is the primary focus, other targets include consumer culture and the general human willingness to be led by the nose by a charismatic figure. The narrative drags at times, but the speculative elements are well written and give a good sense of physical and cultural differences. A light touch keeps the moralizing from getting too ham-fisted, and this cautionary tale calling for a better world is a message needed now more than ever.
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