Strange Lands Review #7 from Sonoran Arts Network

Previously Titled: Surviving the Improbable Quest

I’m so honored to be reviewed from Sonoran Arts Network! here’s the great review:

“When Lan Darr needs a hero, someone to rid their world of the monster Jibbawk, an unlikely child amid all the creatures of the land must step up to the challenge. If Atlas’s descriptions of the creatures Allan meets in Lan Darr don’t leap off the page as if you’re meeting them yourself, then his dazzling illustrations throughout the novel certainly will. Indeed, it’s difficult to know which talent to admire more: the writing or the artwork. Ultimately, Surviving the Improbable Quest is a fantasy tour de force, a harrowing Alice in Wonderland. ”
~Michael Frissore of Sonoran Arts Network

 

Here’s the whole review and the link:
Review
Anderson Atlas
reviewed by Michael Frissore

 

I’m not one to be taken with young adult fantasy novels. On the rare occasion that I do pick one up, I don’t expect to be utterly invested in its protagonist. Nor do I imagine that the characters I will meet in this world will be so engaging. Nonetheless, this is what occurred upon my reading ofAnderson Atlas‘s Surviving the Improbable Quest: Heroes of Distant Planets Book 1.

Anderson Atlas is the pen name of Tucson writer, graphic artist and illustrator Bradley Peterson. Atlas has written a number of young adult fantasies, including The Missing Sun, Lost Spells  and The 6th Horseman, all of which I want to read after finishing Surviving the Improbable Quest.

In Surviving the Improbably Quest, Atlas gives us an extraordinary hero, and in Off-World, Book One in the Heroes of Distant Planets series, Atlas has created an entertaining and inspiring saga, one that adults and young adults alike will enjoy.

Allan was a typical teenager, a star on the swim team who also struggles with his grades at school. His world is turned upside down when he awakens from a coma to find that he was in a car accident that left him a paraplegic and took the lives of both his parents.

One can’t help but feel absolutely terrible for Allan. His life will never be the same. You wouldn’t wish this level of tragedy on your worst enemy, let alone an innocent, talented child with his whole life ahead of him.

Soon, while fishing with his Uncle Rubic (Allan’s new guardian who he hardly knows), an earthquake-like rumble and flood waters carry Allan to Lan Darr, a strange land where he meets salamander people drinking tea, sad-faced balloon people, and a human girl named Asantia.

If Atlas’s descriptions of the creatures Allan meets in Lan Darr don’t leap off the page as if you’re meeting them yourself, then his dazzling illustrations throughout the novel certainly will. Indeed, it’s difficult to know which talent to admire more: the writing or the artwork.

Of the balloon-like creatures, Atlas writes:

“Glowing balloons float toward him. Their internal lights flicker like fluorescent lights. As they get closer, Allan can see faces, strange and sad faces. Their eyes look toward the horizon, and some of their mouths are wide like they’re feeding off the air itself. Below their balloon-shaped bodies are tentacles that sway in the wind.”

The balloon creatures are entirely nice to Allan, but you get the feeling that things won’t be all happiness and light in Lan Darr.

And so there’s Jibbawk. When Rubic first tells Allan about the legend of Jibbawk, he describes him as an “evil creature” with “claws instead of hands, a sharp beak instead of a mouth, and poisonous quills all over his body.” The reader recognizes that what Allan fears at that moment will come true. He will meet face-to-face with this Jibbawk, and let’s just say that Uncle Rubic is a little off on the poisonous quills part.

Ultimately, Surviving the Improbable Quest is a fantasy tour de force, a harrowing Alice in Wonderland. Once seen in Lan Darr by its inhabitants, Allan doesn’t know whether he will be sold; if he’ll be “tested,” as so many young people who enter this world are; or if he’ll even survive. The reader will thrill as this fourteen-year-old, wheelchair-bound boy who has lost everything is forced to face impossible fears, even after the trauma he’s already encountered. When Lan Darr needs a hero, someone to rid their world of the monster Jibbawk, an unlikely child amid all the creatures of the land must step up to the challenge.

One cannot walk away from Surviving the Improbably Question without wanting to read its sequel, Book 2: Return to Lan Darr, right away.

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Learn more about Anderson Atlas at his Amazon Author Page here:
http://www.amazon.com/Anderson-Atlas/e/B003VS3OLA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1452030673&sr=1-2-ent

About the reviewer:
Michael Frissore was born and raised in Massachusetts, and has lived in Tucson since 2007. He has a BA in English from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and has published dozens of stories, essays and poems online and in print. After publishing two poetry chapbooks and a short story collection, Mike is currently working on a series of novels set in the world of professional wrestling. Find out more about him at http://themikefrizz.blogspot.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn and Instagram.