Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Four Stories, Seven Narrators

The Magician's Workshop, Volume One


Title: The Magician's Workshop, Volume One
Authors: Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr
Publisher: Wondertale
Date Published: November 8, 2016

Goodreads Summary: Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop. 

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

My Thoughts
Narrating Style: At first this book was really hard for me to read. It was confusing - I felt like I had been dropped into the middle of the story - at first I wondered if I was reading the second book, and not the first. However, a few chapters in, in reality the moment Kai started narrating I was hooked. I read the rest of the book as fast as I could and finished in two days, which considering I'm a full time college student, and I have a job, was quite the feat. 

The thing about this book is that the authors try to do something which I think can be quite difficult - they tell four very distinct stories with seven different narrators. While the stories all occur at the same time, with the same theme of looking forward to finding out if they will be magicians, each child has a very different perspective and way of life going in to this event. Due to that fact, sometimes it was very jolting when the narrator changed. However, once you got into the swing of the book and began to understand the world surrounding it, things made more sense. 

Kai and friends: The story which I think gets the most "screen time" due to the fact that four of the seven narrators belong to it, is that of Kai and his friends in Region 2. This was probably my second favorite overall - I loved the tight group of Kai, Weston, Talia, Luge, and Snap. I loved how they acted like kids, I also enjoyed the chapter we got from the view of Kai's grandma who thinks very differently of things than the children do. 

I especially found the trial insightful in how mob mentality can affect a group of people. In the dark where they can say whatever they like, and names are not used, it is much easier for a group of adults to gang up against a small defenseless child. It was not until an individual who commanded respect came into the light and called out the others by name, that it seemed they realized what they were doing. 

Layauna: I found Layauna's story the most sad, sure she wasn't an orphan, nobody hated her, and her projections were good, but she was alone. She had been taken from her family and placed in a cold and sterile environment where everyday she was faced with the same fears and harshness as the one before. Layauna teaches the reader that you cannot always solve a problem by pushing through it, or going at it head on, sometimes you must think things out and realize what it actually means and how it affects you. It wasn't until Layauna accepted the Hell Dog as part of herself, and thought about what it actually wanted, that she was able to dissolve it. And, she was only able to achieve that because she was treated with love and respect, instead of fear and cold science. 

Kalaya: Personally I didn't enjoy Kalaya. She was whiny and insecure, unable to accept her talents, instead focusing just on one small detail and not being able to appreciate the rest. Yes, her wallaroo was blue, but everything else about it was perfect. I think as people we often focus on our faults and flaws instead of our talents and goodness.

Kaso: Kaso was my favorite. Hands down. I loved everything about him. He seemed more intellectual than the other kids, and more mature. Maybe that comes from being an orphan and raising your little brother. He wasn't as pliable as Kalaya, obedient as Layauna, or oblivious as Kai and his friends. This was a kid who knew what was up and couldn't be deceived by the world around him. When something happened he immediately went on the defensive, but still weighed out the situation and then decided how to act. I loved his special ability to project warmth, and what that meant to me. I was so worried and intrigued on how he was going to get a sponsor, that when I turned the page and found it was the end, I yelled out loud. I was upset. It took me about 2 minutes to pull up my email and send a message to the authors asking for Volume Two!!

Overall:Like I said before, four stories, seven narrators. Whew. 

If ever there was a book that had extreme rising action, this would be it. The entire novel is one rising action. I guess it ensures that the reader will want the second. 

I applaud Hansen and Fehr for creating a unique world which combines apocalyptic, distopian, and magical elements. As well as telling a compelling story. I look forward to reading Volume Two!


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