Thursday, December 15, 2016

Jeffrey A. Davis - Revenge of the Ninja

Revenge of the Ninja
The Adventure Chronicles #1

By Jeffrey A. Davis

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)

Jamie and Yoshi are late twentieth century members of the Funakoshi ninja clan who were trained by Yoshi’s uncle, Tanemura Funakoshi. When the Waruiyatsu, a sinister clan with an ancient grudge, attack Jamie’s high school and hold his classmates hostage in an effort to bring Tanemura and his two students into the open, Jamie and his clan sister are forced to attempt a rescue. 

Going along are a close group of friends, each with his own interest in the fighting arts. From Dave, whose muscle-bound frame and love of a good scuffle are overshadowed by his cheerful personality and kind heart, to Buster, whose Bible is his greatest weapon, each of their friends has a loyalty to them and each other that is stronger than the Waruiyatsu can ever fathom.

This is a story of courage, friendship, and faith ....

About the Author (from Amazon)

Jeffrey Allen Davis was born on March 2, 1975, in St. Charles, MO.The youngest of three boys, he was sheltered by his loving mother. Instead of going out to parties when he was in high school, he stayed at home and watched 80s ninja movies or played RPGs with his fellow geeks (a term that he uses affectionately). These experiences have found their way into his writing. His first book, "Invasion of the Togakura", was released in 2003 by Publish America. It's sequel, "Klandestine Maneuvers", was published by the same company in 2005. After a five-year hiatus from publishing, Davis founded a new press for his third book, "Lily's Redemption." A rewrite of his first book, retitled "Invasion of the Ninja," was released in 2013.

Davis is a licensed Baptist preacher and lives in the St. Louis area with his wife, daughter and two stepchildren.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

A few years back, Jeffery Davis contacted me, asking if I would review his book, and I agreed, since the premise of a Christain Ninja novel appealed to me, not so much because I enjoy ninjas, but because I have cousins who do, and I wanted to see if it was a book that I could give to them.

I started the book right away, and finally finished it a few months ago, feelings very mixed. It wasn't entirely the book's fault that it took me so long to read it - I switched kindles in the middle of it, and since it was a review file, it wasn't easy for me to skip ahead through the book to where I'd left off. It wasn't until late last year that I was given my old kindle back and was able to finish the book. Still, since I wasn't interested in burrowing through the book to find my place, it meant that I wasn't invested - and I was halfway through the book. I should have been invested by that point.

Honestly, I think that the premise still holds a lot of promise. A ninja tribe converted to Christianity, but decide to retain their traditions and skills (the ones that don't involve mysticism, that is). I've been toying with a people group who did the exact same thing in one of my own books. The further premise that they're being attacked by one of their old rivals, I loved that, too. 

The problem with this book is a problem I see in many Christian books. It tries to do too much. Address all of the issues. As a result, the characters are molded to bring issues, rather than the issues brought up in response to the characters. There was a huge cast, but the only one whose name I can remember is Yoshi, and there are only a few distinct personalities that I can pick out from the rest of the crowd. I have a good memory when it comes to books. I don't forget people. But I was so meh about all of these characters that only the main character and the preacher kid, and the preacher kid's love interest stand out in my mind. Oh, and Yoshi's ... uncle, I believe it was.

The main character, Jamie (just referred to the book's description to get his name...), is an American kid who was honorarily adopted by Christian Ninja tribe after a run-in with thugs a few years back where he showed fighting promise. Now he keeps quiet about his ninja skills at school ... until a bully pushes him over the edge. Oh, and then the rival tribe shows up and besieges them in school.

After that, the book alternates between action scenes and conversations about Sensitive Topics.

Topics like swearing, salvation, domestic violence, saving yourself for marriage...

Granted, these are important topics that need to be addressed, but this wasn't necessarily the best book for them. It felt as though the characters were built for the sole reason of talking about these issues. In short, it came out preachy. Even for a book with a preacher kid in it. There was even an awkward jab at abortion at the end that just ... fell flat.

I might have forgiven it, if it hadn't ignored the glaring issues that the book was MADE to address. Violence and the dangers of mysticism. There was a LOT of fighting. Sure, the characters would express remorse for outright killing, but they had no problems with knocking characters unconscious, which, contrary to popular belief, can potentially kill someone. If a knock to the head is hard enough to render you unconscious, it's enough to kill you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-fighting, and I knew what I was getting into. Giving that the enemies were trying to kill our characters, I don't blame them for fighting back. I just wanted there to be more than just a few moment's remorse, and an acknowledgement that they'd not come out of the incident the same when it was over.

Mysticism was addressed even less. A bit at the front of "oh, we don't follow those ways," and then at the end when a prophecy popped out of nowhere and uncle claimed that it might actually have weight.

And then the villains were ... faceless. They were there for no reason but to be fought. Oh, and they're trying to kill the main cast, and traumatized Yoshi when she was younger, but they had no individual personalities.

My other issue was the flashbacks. They're clearly marked, but I failed to notice and was seriously confused on the first one. Normally, I'd forgive them, since they're marked, but almost of the information you learn in the flashbacks is either pointless or it could have been just as easily conveyed in a three minute conversation elsewhere. I'm not a huge fan of flashbacks, though - I've rarely found a book with them that I felt handled it well - so this may be a me-issue.

I don't hate this book, and I don't feel that the time reading it was wasted. I'm just very meh about it. And I don't want to feel meh about a book.

Genre/Theme: Action/Adventure, Christian, Contemporary

Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language, as far as I can remember, though glancing through the other reviews, it is stated that a character does swear, but his words aren't given. 
Sexuality: SUBTLE - hinted, but not explicit. Two of the characters have a discussion about waiting until marriage to have sex. 
There is a LOT of fighting. I forget how graphic it was, though, because I tend to skim action scenes.  

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