Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Melissa Douthit - The Vanishing

The Vanishing
(Legend of the Raie'Chaelia, a Prequel)

by Melissa Douthit

Kindle Edition Available

Product Description (From Amazon)        
          For readers age 10 and up, The Vanishing, a short story prequel to The Raie’Chaelia, reveals Jeremiah’s story: the handsome, young champion archer and hunter who catches every girl’s eye. Pressured by his father to marry and settle down, Jeremiah makes other plans but something happens and he experiences a hard knock that he is not expecting. What is it and what does it mean for him? What are his plans and why isn’t he happy?
About the Author
          Melissa Douthit grew up in North County of San Diego, California. After graduating with a Computer Science degree in Southern California, and working for a summer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico, she moved to the Bay Area to work at NASA Ames Research Center for a year and then at Lawrence Livermore National Lab for another four years. From there, she moved to Monterey, California, to work at the Naval Postgraduate School on a government project for two years. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, working with the Army Corps of Engineers on another government project. Since high school, she has been a voracious reader of books of all genres, with an emphasis in fantasy and science fiction. Her literary work is strongly influenced by her professional experience and includes many elements of her scientific background. You can find out more about Melissa on her website: Melissa Douthit's Blog

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Rachel

 It's not a bad book. The story is clean and flows along well. There were a few moments of brilliance peppered between a great beginning and a great ending.

But it's not a great book either. I kept waiting for it to get interesting again once the mom showed up ... and it did, right as it ended. It is; however, a short story, so it can be read in an hour or two.
The conversations were flat - maybe if it was set in a more modern time and the boys were all pre-teens, but these were grown men acting like little boys. Not all of the conversations were this way, but most were just flat, and hollow. I never got a feel for any consistency of any of the characters - not even the main one. As I read about the mother, my brain picture rapidly developed into "Granny" from the Beverly Hillbillies.

The descriptions were full of tired and overused cliché wordings - most of it would have been better to have been left out. The plotline was a good story - peppered with tons of overused plot fillers and gags (gunpowder trailing across the floor and causing a major explosion .... really?) that just didn't seem to know when to stop.

Basically, an almost 21-year-old "boy" is going to enter an archery contest - which hasn't been won in years - there is a big reward. He's been practicing hard. He is also the youngest in the family, and his family wants him to get married and settle down with a girl down the way. But he wants to win the contest (of course he will - the foreshadowing is thick enough to cut with a knife) and go off searching for .... something.... and his parents are all mysterious about something ... how do they know the king?

He has 4 unmarried older brothers .... so why aren't they all married off? If it is the custom to marry at 21? How much older are they? It only tells us that there are two sets of twins.

And the farm scenes ... does a 21-year-old really need to be reminded to do his chores? Especially if the book has him posted as a hero and so very good at everything? His parents are constantly telling him to go do this or that. And being raised on a small farm, I found most of the farm discussions to be just a bit odd. The rooster was just way too much - but it did make me laugh ... first, because it is actually quite common for roosters to crow at strange times, and second because I couldn't fathom why they would keep a bad rooster just to make baby chicks ... were there not other roosters among the neighbors, did it not produce any male offspring? Tell me that the rooster had the best success at keeping his flock alive of any rooster in the valley ... that could warrant a rooster being saved from the stew pot!
          The great hunter hero, that just knows how to do everything (but is not liked by his older brothers, except maybe one) then goes to this fair - which reads like a combination of every Hollywood fair ever conceived from grade school get together to a typical State fair ... on a horse that struggles to make a turn because he's so fast and stops by a friends house where they blow up the place and put out the fire ... and in spite of everything he's already done that morning ... it's NOT yet 9am.
          Then there is the mystery girl .... which I found confusing ... he lived nearby or with her family from the time he was 9 to age 12, so his parents could take a trip with the older 4 boys ... and yet he couldn't remember her? The parents had been drummed up to be people who never went anywhere after they were married, suddenly this little jewel drops out. And why couldn't they take a 9 year old boy with them? It would have felt a lot less awkward had the boy been a LOT younger - like 3 or 4 ... and then he could be forgiven for having forgotten her. Even so, that again begs the earlier question - just HOW much older are the twins? Why were they not left behind as well?
It is likely that the author has this all worked out in her own head - but too often what is obvious to thinker is not nearly so obvious to the reader.

There are enough good spots, I'm sure younger teens would enjoy this book. But it is not for those of us that enjoy deep characters and page turning plots of original details. The plot does have quite a few promising and enjoyable twists and turns, and the main character is a likable fellow .... except when he is out of character, which happened quite a bit.

          Upon being urged to continue reading the series ... I did so.  What I quickly realized is that this is not so much a prequel as it is an alternate beginning.

I would Highly Recommend ... FIRST read the first 2 chapters of The Raie'chaelia. But stop when you reach the point where Chalice is in the house and creams the tall handsome guy and throws him into the bookshelf.

THEN come read this as it fits very nicely into the slot there giving the story of the young man lying on the floor and stops at about that point and the two stories join for the remainder of the book, the Raie'chaelia. And it gives you background on the mystery girl so that it is far less strange for her to suddenly show up there.

A few other things that you should know, but wouldn't find out until well within the main book, is that the days are 28 hours long, and the earth now spins backwards. This is a book set in the extreme distant future, after a cataclysmic Ice Age. What I do not know is, how long is a year ... because if it is 365 days and 28 hours per day... our young 21 year old hero is MUCH older than his current 21 year old peers. I haven't stopped to do the math there yet.

I will say that I have mostly enjoyed the main book and I am glad that I have continued the series, and increasingly improved as she perused her trilogy. She has some interesting things in her story - but I'll review this book on it's own page.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Post Apoctolyptical, Magic
Reading Level: Teen
Profanity: Low - a few exclamations may concern some, but mostly will not be a problem
Sexuality: subtle

OTHER: While this book itself is a clean read, the next two books have more language, situations, and sexuality. There is talk of marriage, kissing, and similar topics, but it is mild and tactful.

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