Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2019
This review came about when I got a request from a fairly big name in the fantasy community asking me to check out this book by a writer he thought had some talent. With a recommendation like that, I couldn't say no. It turned out to be the right decision, since it turned out to be a creative mashup of genres that held a compelling narrative.
For weeks, Scott Farranger, a typical 15 year old kid, has been having weird seizures, which causes him to lock up and feel like he's being torn apart. At the same time, weird things are happening around him, like the earth moving to stop a player scoring during high school soccer tryouts, or water crashing into a bully as he was harassing Scott. Hiding the seizures from his mother and brother, it all comes to a head when his family and his best friend's family go on a cruise.
When people with guns attack the cruise ship, Scott's friend Charlie tells him that he isn't who he thinks he is, and they have to escape. Going to the side of the ship, Scott sees a portal off the side of the ship and is pushed into it, just as the gunmen are about to kill him. What Scott discovers on the other side of the portal is nothing he could imagine.
He awakens to find himself in in a cage, told he will be fighting to the death in gladiator fights for the enjoyment of Terminus, the evil ruler of the world he finds himself in. He meets a girl named Sam in another cage, and she tells him to be ready, and she'll help him. After a fight where everyone, including Scott, who it turns out has a variety of powers, uses their powers to try and kill each other, Scott and Sam are rescued by Artam, a leader of the resistance movement.
Going to the resistance main camp, Scott learns that he is a Mediator, meaning he has powers on both Earth and Armadron. He's shown around, and learns just how dire the situation if for the Armadronians. Their food situation alone is horrific. It turns out that there is a portal that will soon being opening to Earth, and that Terminus is planning on invading with his specially powered troops to conquer it. Scott is set up to take a trial that will help him fulfill his power potential. Through a series of events, the group with Scott ends up split up while Scott goes on his trial. What the trial reveals to Scott enables him to face his biggest challenge on Armadron, facing off against Terminus and learning that there is an even bigger threat behind Terminus than could have been suspected. Scott and his friend's actions will have huge repercussions across multiple worlds, with failure meaning tyranny and destruction on par with what happened to Armadron, with Scott and company at the center of the firestorm.
CHARACTERS AND WORLD BUILDING
Characters and worldbuilding are treated as equally important in Armadron. The various characters get more character building than you'd expect in a book that skirts being YA. Scott especially gets attention. He goes through the heroes journey type story, with some twists in it. He has failures. Several, in fact, for all the success he has. He needs the help of his companions, without whom he wouldn't succeed. He can be impulsive and impatient. He's 15, and is written very much so. The secondary characters get attention too, giving them actual personalities, strengths and weaknesses. The villain's are a bit of the Evil Emperor type, not seeming to have deluded moral superiority, being more of the "Mwahahaha, I will conquer all" type, but there is a bit behind the scenes that puts it into context.
Worldbuilding was obviously important to the author. Armadron is described in such detail, from the weather, terrain and history, that you get the feeling your right there in the scene. The fact that mental and physical abilities work on Armadron creates an interesting life for the characters. Terminus has basically wrecked the planet, giving it a very dystopian feel. Food is scarce, and this leads to some hard decisions the characters have to make to avoid starving. The sun is hidden by hideous clouds, and the planet has forced some different physical evolutionary changes on the inhabitants. Very interesting choices that add to the alien feel of the world.
I have to say that while the story may appear to be a YA novel, and does skirt that in ways, I would still consider this an adult fantasy/sci-fi novel, one that takes an interesting approach with its young protagonists. These are young people that live in a harsh reality and have to make harsh, life or death decisions daily. They face death from an all powerful tyrant, and they still try and do the right things. The story is one that sucks you in and doesn't let you go until the end.
Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2019
It took me longer than I had hoped to finish this due to life getting in the way but I am glad I got back to it. I wish I could read it for the first time again. The protagonist Scott is a super relatable kid that makes you identify with his troubles. Without giving too much away the plot kept me wondering and trying to comprehend what was happening. As Tate answers one of your questions, he leaves you with five more about the world he has created. I enjoyed imagining each of creative settings that were unique and thought provoking. I wish it was a little longer so I could have enjoyed it longer, but it will help you get invested quickly. Tate has sick media references, I audibly laughed atleast once a chapter.
If you liked the Percy Jackson series but want a more adult story line this is for you. I could see enjoyable aspects of The Avengers and The Art of War in here as well. I'll be eagerly waiting for the next entry in the series!
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Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2019
The author created something truly unique in Armadron. Too often I find myself guessing the next plot point or even the entire ending of a book well in advance...not so this time around. I was very impressed with the character development, world-building, and various backdrops that were introduced into this series. While the book had a definite conclusion, it left more than enough open for further tales and left me eagerly wanting more. I can't wait to see what comes next.
Reviewed in the United States on May 21, 2019
Armadron is a great read; originally my husband bought the book in support of his work buddy Tate, he gave it to me as something to read while I was between books and though this is not my normal pick for reading l took my husbands suggestion and read it. I’m so glad I did! I loved the characters, the books flow makes it easy to read (even if toddlers keeps you from picking it up for days at a time) and the seemingly random twist and turns the story takes will surprise you right to the end! I’m very much an analytical person and usually guess ending and plot twist but for the first time in a while I had a few surprises. The ending really left me wanting more so I will defiantly be watching out for the release of book 2.
I'm nearly finished with Zwataru (Book 2) and your support will allow me to keep publishing books (plus, the paperback is $2 less here vs. on Amazon)!