Thursday, December 29, 2011

Escape from Zarahemla

Ever since I first read Tennis Shoes among the Nephites, I have enjoyed Chris Heimerdinger's books, including those outside of his Tennis Shoes Adventure Series.  A few years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by Passage to Zarahemla, which stuck with Heimerdinger's tried and true formula centered around time travel, but gave us something new and different from the Tennis Shoes books since the characters were unfamiliar with time travel and not that familiar with religion, either.  As with most Heimerdinger books, it was left wide open, just begging for a sequel.

Book cover.It took eight years, but Heimerdinger finally got around to writing the sequel, Escape from Zarahemla (ISBN: 978-1-60861-539-1).  In it, Kerra, Brock, their father, Chris, and their grandfather, Grandpa Lee, purposefully head off into a mysterious "rift in time" to see about some of the people left behind — Chris's Nephite wife and kid as well as Kerra's childhood friend (and now love interest), the Nephite soldier Kiddoni.  It doesn't take but a few seconds before they're entangled in an ongoing war between the righteous Nephites and Lamanites, who have banded together to take on the Gadianton robbers.  The twist to the whole thing is that the Gadiantons have someone in their midst trying to usurp power, a man rumored to practice a magic even blacker than that of your everyday Gadianton, Akuhuun.  Like all Heimerdinger adventures, the books, written for teenagers, move along quickly, and you're pulled right into the action, of which there is never a shortage.  One adventure after another befalls characters from throughout history, including an unexpected turn involving one of the gangsters that wanted to kill Brock after Brock ditched a quarter million worth of illegal drugs in the first book.  In the end, it seems like things are good, notwithstanding the honorable deaths of a few of the good guys, especially since Chris and his family are reunited, as are Kerra and Kiddoni.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series because it was a departure from the Tennis Shoes series.  Fresh characters and a modern-day setting that presented some hilarious passages as Gadianton warriors met 7-Eleven and that American icon, the car, for the first time.  While the action was as fast and as furious as ever, and I enjoyed the read, phrases like "the smell of ozone" notwithstanding, I was slightly disappointed in two things about this book.  One was that at the end, Heimerdinger managed to connect this series to his Tennis Shoes series.  In the future, the two series will be one.  From my point of view, this is too bad, because I liked the new faces and new story lines.  Second, I was disappointed that the action in this book took place in the ancient world.  This book felt more like a Tennis Shoes book than the first one, and we already knew Heimerdinger could write this.  The breath of fresh air that was in Passage to Zarahemla wasn't here, and considering the future plans for the characters, won't be here in the future, either.  I would've enjoyed more Gadiantons wandering through small, southern Utah towns.  Who says adventure and good, old-fashioned sword fighting fun can't have healthy doses of humor thrown in?  All in all, I thought the backstory to longtime heroes Gid and Huracan was well-written, even if it did make the book feel like a prequel, and enjoyed it, just not as much as I hoped I would.

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This work, including all text, photographs, and other original work, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 License and is copyrighted © MMXI John Pruess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm going to get it for Nathan on his birthday. We're looking forward to reading it. -Mom