tl;dr: Whispers of Nowhere is an enjoyable, action packed young adult fantasy that manages to cram a lot in one book.
This is an unbiased review of the book (offered by the author).
Whispers of Nowhere is the first in a YA fantasy series that revolves around Gods and Demons. The nominal McMuffin is a set of six artefacts that holds the seals to a prison – the titular ‘Nowhere’ – in place. What is there in the prison, you might ask? It incarcerates all the evil and malevolent forces that have plagued mankind. So, the book starts with these artefacts disappearing and Gwen, our protagonist getting stuck in the middle of all this. She teams up with a couple of “angels” and embarks on a journey to get these artefacts back and put the seals back in place.
What I liked
Whispers of Nowhere is a surprisingly dense book given its genre, both in volume and content. Stuff keeps happening all the time. The good thing is that since the book has been written in an easy to read fashion, it does not get fatiguing. I have to confess though – I needed multiple sessions to finish the book. For comparison, I think I read the Percy Jackson books in one sitting.
The other thing that I liked about its book is its lack of a love triangle. I stopped reading YA and the trope with a triangle is one of the primary reasons why. Thankfully, Shannon Rohrer choses to make this about friendship and not romance.
The main characters are all well fleshed out including the antagonists. I liked that they had a good character arc in the book with perspectives changing, understanding dawning and feuds settling. This is probably one of the best YA books I have read with respect to character arcs.
The universe this book resides in reminded me of the D&D pantheon of Gods. There are gods and then, there are Gods. The gods comprise of the usual greek/egyptian pantheons, which is the staple diet for western writers. There is some uniqueness in the way Shannor Rohrer has organized the heavens and it never gets boring.
As I had mentioned earlier, this book is thick. But, its mostly above average pace keeps us engaged throughout. In addition, there is plenty of action to take to edge of saying enough.
What I did not like
There are three things that could have been better.
The first is removing the angst which one character seemed to carry around. It annoyed me since it was at odds with his history. Plus, while a certain class of reader might enjoy angst, yours truly doesn’t. But, I am not the target audience and I guess younger people might not mind it so much.
The second is the inconsistent rules in the universe. Sometimes, characters had powers and sometimes they didn’t. I dislike it when it happens in comics where plot determines strength and I disliked it here. The other issue is that Gwen goes on her quest but what about her father? Maybe I missed the explanation but that felt like a WTF to me.
The third is that while the Greek/Egyptian pantheons are great, the world is much bigger and there is richer mythology out there. I would love to see an even handed approach to building the world in this series since I think it will only make it better.
Overall, I feel that the strengths of the book far outweigh my nitpicks. If you are on the lookout for a YA fantasy, I recommend Whispers of Nowhere.
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