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Derek J. Canyon graduated from the University of Washington in 1990. He's been working as a technical writer in the software industry since 1997, and released his first fiction ebook in September of 2010. Derek and his wonderful wife live near Seattle with their long-haired Chihuahua.
on July 09, 2011 :
Quite an entertaining read with a unique blend of magic and technology. The young adult fiction genre is a bit crowded of late, its nice that Canyon here has got a fresh take on it. None of the standard elves or dwarves, no school for youngsters who learn to be like their magical parents. Just a straight up adventure with plenty of action and quality descriptions of real world sites
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on June 25, 2011 :
An entertaining, action filled story. Four tweens, thrown together by vacations, chance and good answers, fight for their lives and the continued existence of Earth itself.
The characters are the defining element of this story. The four kids are not stereotypes, in fact they seem extraordinarily well drawn, and they always act the way the character should, based on what we know. I like that each of the four brings his or her own personality, and that Mr. Canyon has pulled them from far different backgrounds: a German, a middle class American, a Native American and an Indian. It's not easy to tell which one of them will act in a given scene: they all have their chances, and sometimes they do well, other times, not so much. I found them all likeable, though I have a favorite. Just like real people. The villains of the piece are sometimes difficult to identify, but they also behave consistently.
I am impressed with the settings. The descriptions speak of personal experience, and Mr. Canyon admits to hijacking a family vacation to visit the Mount Rushmore National Monument, where the first scenes play out. Other settings may not have benefited from a personal visit, but - speaking as a visitor to Rome, at least - there was nothing omitted that needed to be present.
The story, kids save the world, could be a tedious and familiar plot, but not so this one. From the beginning when a talking raccoon - sorry, rascan (all too close to rascal!) - freezes a poor park ranger to the ending series of twists and turnabouts, it's filled with unconventional but well-paced action in atypical settings, and for me, that made it much more interesting.
Many YA fantasy novels are set in a more British environment, because, I suppose, that country is a fine setting for that kind of story. This author scoffs at that notion, and uses settings around the world along with unconventional transport (globe trotting at 70MPH!) to provide us a quite enjoyable reading experience.
If you are a young adult, or adult, fan of YA fantasy, or you are looking for an alternative kind of fiction, I recommend Elemental Odyssey unreservedly. I'm looking forward to Book 2!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)