Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow - Day 2

There has been discussion on this month's Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour concerning storytelling style and certain allegorical elements, so I'm adding my two cents.

First, and most obvious: This book is not intended for adults. Its protagonist is fifteen, and the narrative begins with the unexpected results of a prank pulled on the last day of school for that year. Most middle grade or junior high readers who pick up the book will be hooked. For us adults, such an opening may not hold any appeal. We've already endured being fifteen, we've survived to (insert your age here), and we'd like to move on, thank you very much.

Second: Yes, there are allegorical elements. I refer again to the first point: This book is not intended for adults. We have read wider, encountered more types of stories, than our youthful counterparts. To us, allegory is obvious. To a twelve-year-old, not so obvious. He or she isn't necessarily looking for a direct correlation between characters or objects and the real world or holy writ, but for a good story that draws the reader in and surrounds them with interesting characters, events, settings. Most children and teens don't consider the deeper aspects of stories, or the real-world parallels, until they start analyzing literature in school. Though such analysis teaches much, it can also detract from the pure enjoyment of story.

'Nuff said.

Now, about Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow:

The Author's mark, the triple-V motif, is cool -- Via, Veritas, Vita. Way, Truth, Life. The swords and arrows are cool, too, not being weapons until needed, until the hilts are wielded or the bowstrings drawn. The book's ability to literally absorb its readers in the story made me laugh out loud -- not from mockery, but from the idea that letters can open wide and swallow the reader. That's not quite the image in the novel, though; when Hunter first reads the book, the letters are see-through, and he is sucked into them, into the story they describe.

These elements intrigue me now, and would have done so if such a book were available when I was a kid. Any story including mystical portals, space travel, time travel, magic keys, secret codes, special swords, alternate dimensions -- any book with the strange and fantastical -- grabbed my attention. My mother often expressed concern that I was filling my mind with evil notions and falsehoods masquerading as truth. She was right to be concerned, because much of what I read was dark and could have led me into unhealthy interests. With Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow, parents need not have my mother's worry. In addition to an engaging story and a protagonist with whom they can identify, readers will be presented with life-applicable threads of truth woven among the story's events.

I had intended a different post for today, but those thoughts can wait until tomorrow. Meantime, there's a page -- Join the Resistance -- on The Miller Brothers' website, where readers 13 and older can sign up to become Codebearers, play the Codebearer challenges (the deadline for prizewinning is past, but the game's still available), and participate in the Codebearer Community. Also, the entire text of the book is available online, for kids who may not be able to get to the bookstore themselves. How awesome is that?

For other perspectives on the book, visit these blogs:

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Wade Ogletree
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson


Mike Lynch said...

Very nice review. I like how you inserted your views of the genre into the review.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Keanan, I think your comments are excellent. I do think it's important to remember that what may seem obvious to an adult may not be so transparent to the target-audience teen.

Looking forward to more of your thoughts about the book.


Amydeanne said...

great review! and yes, nice for kids to read! :)

Keanan Brand said...

Mike - Yeah, they do show through, don't they? (smile) I'm opinionated.

Becky - Thanks!

Amy - Yup!

Bladebearer said...

I think this story has appeal to adults too(At least for this one). I loved looking for the allegorical elements as I read this book. It made it all the more wonderful!

Keanan Brand said...

Blade - Ya know, allegory gets a bad rap, I think. It seems to be viewed in poor light these days; almost the worst thing one can say about fantasy or science fiction is that it is allegorical. I think the reason might lie in fact that -- regardless of a writer's agenda, politics, or religion -- allegory is used clumsily and like a bludgeon. However, when used well, allegory can result in some wonderful stories.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I liked how you pointed out why kids would like this more than adults. Its tough to remember as an adult that as kids we were looking for something different than what we are now. I liked how you worded your review. Good job!

Keanan Brand said...

Thanks, JB!