|Highly Creative, Incredibly Fun, and Full of Heart|
The Quick and Dirty
+Fantastic fantasy world building.
+Exceptional fully colored illustrations highlighting major chapter events. I can't overstate how much I loved these.
+A lovable cast of rascally characters along an enjoyable cast of sub-characters.
+Truly beautiful descriptions and vibrant world that seems like a character all its own,
+Black and white drawings throughout chapter than flesh out characters and events.
+A well rounded tone that's not too cheery and not too dark.
+Gives a Pixar movie vibe. Who doesn't love Pixar?
-Slow beginning buildup.
-I needed a dictionary at all times. There were more than 30 words I needed to look up as I read. My ignorance is the main issue here, but I still found it annoyingly world breaking to have to look so many words up. Some knowledge of the natural world helps too.
-Some illustrations don't match the action leaving some occasional temporary head scratching.
I am reviewing a reviewer's copy of the book, though I liked it so much that I bought my own.
It takes me a while to get into each book that I read. During those first few chapters my mind is always screaming at me to go do something else. It just yells, "Distraction, distraction, distraction" while I try to concentrate and slip into my new book. I couldn't escape it during my first few chapters of Sunborn Rising either.
The book starts slow, as most fantasy tales do, and like most stories we are slowly introduced to the world and the book's cast of characters. Barra, our main character, is joined by two others Plicks and Tory for the bulk of her journey. It's established early on how close as friends they are and it’s also established that they always get into a lot of trouble together. Barra and her mother seem to have a tumultuous relationship thanks to Barra's bad behavior and Barra herself is trying to investigate a mystery that was uncovered by her missing father. It takes a while to get the adventure going, but when it does it rarely slows down.
Once our daring protagonists leave the village and start their adventure, we are introduced to a world (Cerulean) that is so strange and beautiful that I could read ecology books about it for days on end. I love the way the sun is at the center of this vast ocean teeming with all sorts of life forms alien to me and how these massive trees float in the ocean and house all of the Arboreals. Many of the organisms even have an out of this world cosmic feel to them. I was left with a legitimate feeling of awe and wonder when I read the elaborate descriptions and gazed at the illustrations of this truly unique world with its wondrous creatures.
The amount of creativity that went into this book seems staggering to be honest. I'm an indie author (and wannabe game designer) as well and just seeing how well-crafted this thing is makes me tired just looking at it. The artwork brings this project to life in untold ways. I'm not kidding when I say that I marveled at most of the illustrations for several minutes before moving forward. They're just so rich and have so much to look at, so much detail to take in and it synergizes really well with the chapter you're reading. You'll be reading a big scene and then the next page over may get an illustration that looks 100 times better than whatever you were imagining. I love it! I can't state that enough. There are a few parts where the art doesn't match the scene, but it's so infrequent that it's not a real problem. There were just two illustrations that come to mind and the most it did was cause me to scratch my head a bit and reread a description or two.
I loved the characters as well. Barra's relationship with her friends and mom was really touching. I like the whole community of Arboreals that make up the book. The book features protagonists that are anthropomorphic animals. Barra and her mother are Listlespurs, Arboreals that are human-like felines with whip like tails and purple fur. The Arboreals have a unique set of customs and history that was interesting to read about. And the journey is a journey to save the world and there are some big time consequences for failure.
I thought everything in the book felt organic and fleshed out including the way the story was told and how it unfolded. There is never an overloading of one type of emotion and the book never tells you how to feel. The book has a wealth of tone that ranges from light to dark, ebbing and flowing constantly. There's some sad moments and there's a good amount of levity as well. I must say I enjoyed the journey. So I'll wrap this up here by saying that this book is a truly inspiring book, if for its ambition alone. It has my endorsement and is well worth the buy. I will be keeping up with the various Sunborn Rising media and will be purchasing any subsequent sequels in the future. Kudos to Aaron Safronoff and his team! I've posted the Amazon.com link for the book in the first image above. Click the kolalabat below for the author's website.