Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wind Warrior (World Aflame #1) by Jon Messenger Review

Hello readers! Today I have another review for you guys. A "new" to me Paranormal series that is promising and sure to be up come of your alleys! This book is part of a series, however I will not be covering this as a series review. I will cover one reason in detail later, but the other reason is because there are 3 books out in this series as of now, but I'm not sure if that is all of them. I can think of at least one more that may come out? So I'm doing at least book one solo. I may do books 2 and 3 together for you guys later this week but for now, here is book one. Today on the chopping block is Wind Warrior, book one in the World Aflame series by Jon Messenger. Before we get to my thoughts, here's a little bit about the book and our author.

                                  THE EARTH GIVES WAY TO THE SEA,

                                  THE SEA BOWS BEFORE THE WIND,

                                  THE WIND FEEDS THE FLAME,

                                  THE FLAME BURNS THE WORLD OF MAN DOWN TO THE EARTH.

The sleepy town of White Halls harbors a dangerous secret. On a picturesque street, two houses down from a lovely little park, in a quaint little home with a wraparound porch, lives a family that seems rather normal. Sure, their twenty-year-old son, Xander, still lives at home, but he’s going to college and dating the leader of the schools top sorority. It’s all very… normal.

However, when a man is miraculously saved from being hit by a bus, Xander’s life turns in to the living embodiment of the tornadoes he can suddenly create with a flick of his wrist. Whether he wants this gift or not, Xander must learn to use his new ‘super power’ quickly if he wants to survive. For his kind is a dying race, and when this sleepy town has a sudden influx of new, blonde, fire wielders, no one is safe, especially Xander. It doesn’t help that one of these blondes happens to be the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Xander can’t deny the instant connection he feels to her so, when she tries to kill him, it certainly makes things complicated.

Can I just add before we go on that the covers for this entire series are absolutely phenomenal. Seriously. Kudos to the cover author because they are fantastic. Wow!

Jon Messenger

Jon Messenger (Born 1979 in London, England) serves as an United States Army Major in the Medical Service Corps. Since graduating from the University of Southern California in 2002, writing Science Fiction has remained his passion, a passion that has continued through multiple combat and humanitarian deployments. Jon wrote the "Brink of Distinction" trilogy, of which "Burden of Sisyphus" is the first book, while serving a 16-month deployment in Baghdad, Iraq.

Find Jon Messenger

Before we get to my thoughts on Wind Warrior, check out this awesome book trailer that was created for the release last summer! Book trailers are seriously one of my favorite things to watch and yet so many authors don't make them. This one is amazing. Way cool!


Before I get into my actual review I just want to say a few things pertaining to starting a paranormal series. Paranormal is my absolute favorite genre. Here in the past few years this new sub-genre has emerged in the field of paranormal: elemental fiction. Elemental fiction is amazing and I can't get enough of it. In fact, I have even toyed around with a few ideas of my own for books that could fit into this genre. On that note, it is getting really hard to distinguish between books, because, unfortunately, many of them are reading alike. There are so many original ideas and each new series has a twist on the sub genre, but as a whole I only can wonder how long it can exist before there are simply no more ideas to write on. Just my thoughts.

Secondly, and more importantly, the first book of any series is usually the most difficult to write and read. Not only do you have to create the entire plot, characters, etc. When you are a paranormal author, you have to create and entire world. It's a rather large shoe to fill and unfortunately I think it is why so many paranormal authors slip through the cracks. Above any other genre, I have so much respect for paranormal authors. Any author who can successfully create and run their own world seriously has more imagination that many of us mere readers could possibly imagine.

My series reviews are extremely popular and among my favorite to write, but I wanted to take a step back and do something a little different with this series and rather than rate it as a whole, I am going to rate each book individually. That way I can adequately review each book on an individual basis. 

My Thoughts:

Wind Warrior was a book I picked up on a whim. It was suggested to me by a fellow blogger and, being on an elemental kick, I decided to take the bait. I picked up my copy (free) from B&N and was elated to discover that our author, Jon Messenger, is a male. Seriously this excites me more than it should. I love reading, but since starting this blog I have not had the opportunity to review the work of a male author that I enjoyed (I've only done one other one and I'd rather not rant about how bad it was again). Anyway. After reading Messenger's bio I was excited to see what he would bring to the table. This was a whole new adventure for me and also a new adventure into the world of Clean Teen Publishing (who I am still slightly confused about). An adventure that, in the end, proved worthwhile.

Let me start out with the my negative thoughts first. Primarily, I had no idea where to place this novel. Is it YA? Is it NA? Well... That's a great question. It's cast features main characters who claim to be 20 years of age and in college. So... NA. In my thoughts? No.

Xander is a 20 year old man who lives with his parents while going to the local college. He is nearing completion and has no idea what he wants to do with his life. Common 20 year old problem, right? I can definitely relate. I am 22 and just graduated and am in the same boat. Welcome to the party Xander. Well, unfortunately that's where Xander's comparison to any other 20 year old end. Xander does not have a job. In fact, Xander is a 20 year old and seems rather spoiled and lazy to me. He is super laid back and never even so much as utters a curse word in this 150 page novel. Seriously. This whole read was entirely too friendly for my liking. Xander lives at home, is a 20 year old man, and is completely coddled by his family. His mom knocks on his bedroom door and sits on his bed to comfort him ans he lies face down under the covers when Xander is having a rough day. Xander's home life is only part of the problem.

School is even more confusing. In the beginning of the story Xander asks his best friend Sean "what are you doing today after school?" I'm sorry... what? He is in college. Who says that? They consistently talk about "school". Not college, not class, "school". Maybe it is just me, but what 20 year old college kid talks about his lecture halls as though it's an 8-3 schedule? Even worse, Xander talks about how he has to "go home after school and finish his homework before dinner". Seriously guys. I had a really hard time with the beginning of this novel. Xander is a child. In my personal thoughts, this book DEFINITELY should be about a 16 year old boy. This "college" thing definitely did not do it for me. As a 22 year old, recently graduated college male, I was extremely offended by Xander. I had to work my ass off through school and definitely didn't make a joke about it. I just think college should be written about more seriously than this story took it. If Xander is going to be a 20 year old, then why is he acting like a child. Get a job dude.

On that same note, Xander's "girlfriend", Jessica. Okay. I know it sounds like I'm ripping this novel apart, but hear me out readers. Jessica is president of the most popular sorority on campus. Jessica is dating Xander. A 20 year old immature boy who has no sense of a college aged male and lives with his parents. Please someone show me where the president of a sorority would ever date this boy. EVER. They wouldn't. End of story. Jessica could be cool, except, this is a college age girl who spends the first 50 pages of the book begging Xander to accompany her to the Formal. Are you kidding me? What kind of college is this. I don't care WHO you are, if you are the president of the sorority and this is your boyfriend, you are not begging him to come to your Formal. Seriously. This is like a high school drama all over again. Can I remind you guys again that we are talking about a college? Not a freshman in college either. This is a sorority president. Definitely a senior. Who acts like the pompous head of the cheerleading squad who is gunning for homecoming queen. Sorry guys, this whole setting just REALLY rubbed me the wrong way.

The last negative aspect I need to cover is Xander's reaction to the sudden acquisition of his powers. Instead of being quiet, scared, or reserved about them like a normal person, what does Xander do? BROADCASTS THEM TO HIS FRIEND. Seriously. he drags his friend to an abandoned field "after school" and then shows him all these awesome things he can do with these powers that, wait for it, he just got YESTERDAY! *sigh* Where is that meme again:
There we go. Seriously. I really hated the way that Xander's powers were introduced. I feel like there were definitely better ways to go about this. The Spiderman approach would have worked amazingly here. Let the boy get familiar with his powers over the course of some time. Not one night. Give me a break. He is 20 and he has homework and stuff. How ever did he find the time to perfect his new-found powers?

You are probably thinking, "damn Ethan, did you like this book at all?" To that I will go ahead and say that I actually really liked this novel in the end. Once I got passed the beginning, I realized this was something I could definitely get on board with. In fact, I already have books 2 and 3 on my Nook and ready to go. I had to force myself to stop reading so I could write down my thoughts before books 2 and 3 changed my mind, because I can already tell they are about to blow book one OUT OF THE WATER.

The elemental "element" of this story was SPOT ON. I love the thought of only one elemental caste being allowed to live on Earth at one time, that makes for an amazing story. I won't give any spoilers away to interested readers, but the battle that book one sets up is going to be amazing. I can really get on board with that. The supporting characters that Xander meets once he begins to train with his powers are awesome and really give the story some much needed depth. Xander has an awesome "family" of Wind Warriors who are going to prove to be pretty awesome in the end, even for a bunch of "old people".

The redeeming quality of book one for me was the introduction of Sammy's character. Sammy is Xander's new Fire-elemental love interest. Sammy is seriously an awesome selling point for this book. Her story is much more complex than that of Xander's, in my opinion. Her backstory is gripping and she brings some mystery and emotions to the story that were desperately needed. Her (*MINOR SPOLIER*) "betrayal" was one of the most interesting parts of the book. The feelings and emotions she shares for Xander and her father in the various scenes prove to be the most exciting in the whole novel. Sammy is definitely a character I cannot wait to read more about.

The book is told in 3rd person which is really interesting. I haven't seen that in a very long time. Most of the books I read are in 1st person POV and often dual POV these days. With the way Messenger gave a voice to this series we are able to read the story of multiple characters in a simultaneous timeline without ruining another characters story. The shifts in story were done at perfect times and I seriously applaud Messenger for that. It is very hard to write in that style.

The action in Wind Warrior is also pretty awesome. I really like the idea of reading elementals using their powers to fight, but with purpose. The Wind Warrior caste is definitely a group that is worth rooting for, especially once you hear their story. The fire elementals were written to be the perfect villains and General Abraxas was seriously an evil dude. I enjoyed that as well. From his sharpened teeth to all the sneering he did, he seems like the perfect villain... for a YA novel. *sigh*

Big picture wrap up here folks. Wind Warrior is a great read. IF you are looking for something completely safe and easy enough for most anyone to understand. The story is great, if you can see yourself through the beginning of the book. I would seriously give this book probably a 5 star review if only the setting and tone were different. I am very excited to read the next two books in the series and only hope that my fears are abated as soon as I jump back into the World Aflame. Overall I am going to give Wind Warrior a 3 star rating. It was definitely satisfying enough for me to want to continue the series, but the overarching problems I had really made it hard for me to fall in love with this read. Here's to hoping books 2 and 3 blow my socks off!

Where can you get yours?
What's the best news about this novella? It's free! Yes, you did read that correctly! Follow the links below to get your copy now!

FREE on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Alright readers, there you have it: my review of Jon Messenger's Wind Warrior! While this may not have been my absolute favorite novel of all time, I serious am giving Jon Messenger a huge round of applause because I can totally understand his vision for this series. I can only hope that I enjoy books 2 and 3 as much as I think I will! I know LOTS of people love this series so I just want to point out that mine is only one of hundred of reviews of this novel. Please read the series for yourself and don't solely make decision based off one reviewer! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Until next time, Happy Reading!

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