Friday, October 4, 2013

Sam's Quest for the Crimson Crystal by Ben Furman Book Review

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Black Hawk Press (April 16, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0977873188
ISBN-13: 978-0977873180

Book Synopsis: "Sam" Mae Costas is nobody's idea of a hero. She is constantly teased about her thick glasses, her small size, and her asthma attacks are embarrassing and difficult to control. When Sam is forced to spend the summer on her grandpa's farm she thinks things can't get much worse. Deep in the caverns below the farm, Prince Buznor is a young Awok on a life-and-death mission to save his world. He has to find Sam and prove to her that only she can find and control the Crimson Crystal...the one weapon that can defeat the evil threatening his people. To reach the Crimson Crystal Sam must journey through the hostile Land of Geffen, facing hordes of catacomb dwarfs, vicious vampire bats and deadly monsters. Can Sam overcome her fears, her doubts, and find the Crimson Crystal in time to save the Awokian world?

It has been quite some time since I have read a book classified as young adult and also quite some time since I have read something in the fantasy category so it was a pleasure to read this book by Ben Furman. There are quite a few things that I love about this book, but most of all I love the fact that the author portrays the hero as a young girl who is not what you would typically classify as a hero. She has asthma, is small for her age, wears big thick glasses, and is what you would consider a tomboy. Summer is here, and that means that it is time for Sam's parents to head off on their archeological expedition. It also means it is time to leave New York and head to Grandpa Paul's farm, the place where Sam will spend her summer. Sam loves her Grandpa, but would much rather go with her parents. Unfortunately, the still think she is too young. She is worried that this summer will be like every other, with some fun in the beginning, but with boredom setting in before too long. She couldn't have been more wrong!

There have been questions about Sam's lineage from an early age. She looks nothing like most of her relatives, but does have an unusal characterisitic, a birthmark on her neck in the shape of a diamond. This birthmark seems to appear on relatives in Sam's family every 100 years...she thinks this seems too unusual to be just a coincidence. And she was right. Sam finds out that she comes from a long line of protectors of creatures no one in this world has ever heard of. She has experienced odd sensations while on her Grandfather's farm, but never dreamed it was due to the fact that there was a portal to another world rooted in his land. Not only does she have powers, she is truly a legend in the world of Prince Buznor. She needs to draw on the strength she has buried to find the Crimson Crystal so she can save the Awokian people from elimination. I am surprised and pleased to say that this book really held my attention. Even though it is geared towards a younger audience, the author does a good job of keeping the pace exciting. I would recommend this for young and old alike.

About the author: Ben, a former FBI counterterrorism chief, has drawn on this experience to write about high-tech terrorism, chemical, biological, and nuclear threats, and transnational criminal cartels. During his career he investigated kidnappings, extortions, bank robberies, led SWAT teams and was the FBI counterterrorism chief assigned to address threats against the United States by terrorists of all stripes. He also writes fantasy adventure novels with positive messages for the young adult, juvenile market. He is the Rexus CEO, a corporation that conducts international corporate investigations involving industrial espionage, internal theft, business due diligence and background screening. You can visit his website at www.blackhawkpress.com.

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