Click to Embiggen
When I was a young adult, I consistently read books by a man named Kevin McFadden, who goes by the pen name Christopher Pike. (I assume this is because he's a huge Star Trek nerd, since he also likes to reference the show in his books.) I remember being blown away by the way he could build suspense and bring fantasy elements like ghosts and zombies to a high school setting, and make it consistently believable. My most favorite of his works were Monster, about how bacterium in the town's water supply makes most of the football team into flesh-eating jerks (a premise heavily "borrowed" for the film "The Faculty"), and The Last Vampire series.
So you're me, and you've got 20 or so Christopher Pike paperbacks in the basement that you don't really want to let go of. You're wandering through the library on your day off, and you see a book prominently displayed on a shelf: "Alosha." As it happens, Alosha is both the main character and the first book of a new fantasy series that Pike is working on. (It being published in 2004, the most recent of the series being published in 2007, the next volume not even finished yet, I count it as "recent.") Of course you're going to pick it up and see if it's any good -- which is just what I did.
Now, I know you can argue that it's rated at a sixth grade reading level, and so I shouldn't expect too much, and for that I call bullshit. Harry Potter books start out at a younger reading level, so to speak, but by the fourth and fifth books, it becomes obvious they were meant for a maturing audience (because Harry and the series were growing up.) I just finished Philip Pullman's sublime His Dark Materials series, and Rania can attest to its definitely being "general fiction," as that's where they used to file it during her bookstore clerk days. So being a "kid's book" means it should suck about as much as a film being in black & white means it's not as good as say, Mansquito, because the latter is in color and Citizen Kane isn't.
Here's what I can say that's positive about the Alosha series: The cover artwork by Daniel Dos Santos is consistently fantastic. Surprisingly my favorite illustration (the one above) is on the cover of my least favorite entry in to the series, The Yanti. But let's get to the parts I don't like...