March 21, 2011

Review: Shadow Walker by L.A. Banks

Shadow Walker
Author: L.A. Banks
Publisher: Createspace
Series: Neteru Academy, Book 1
ISBN: 1456537431
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

*Novel provided by Book It Forward Arc Tours

For more information please visit L.A. Banks' website.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world following the Armageddon, in Shadow Walker, the teenage children of the world’s Guardians of the Light must learn to hone their extra-sensory talents to one day join in the battle with their parents.

While they are secreted away in the Temt Tchaas Academy, (aka Neteru Academy), these students must learn to fight evil as well as learn to resist the temptation of fighting with each other. Although these young people have super powers, they still struggle with the same dramas and insecurities like any other high school student – and just because their parents may be superhuman doesn’t mean their parents are perfect. Far from it. That only makes life more confusing, as peer pressure, budding romances, decisions about whether or not to snitch, or whether or not to use one’s supernatural gifts for personal gain must be sorted out.

In this coming of age story, Sarah Rivera and her twin brother, Alejandro, must figure out when to use their wings or fangs, how to get along with their compound siblings, how to fit in with others in a huge new school, and perhaps most importantly, how to pick their battles to always fight for what is right.

From the world of L.A. Banks’ popular world of the Vampire Hunter Legends, comes a new young adult series following in the adult versions footsteps. Shadow Walker, the debut novel in the Neteru Academy series is an imaginative and enthralling novel that foretells of the epic battle between Light and Dark, introducing the new breed of Guardians who will protect humanity. Told with truly captivating prose, this novel brought to life a world and cast of characters that were instantly endearing and one of a kind showing exactly why this author’s work has been so hugely successful.

The world building is initially what drew me in. While this was my first time stumbling into Banks’ writing, I was instantly drawn into the history and lore of the Vampire Huntress Legens series. Down to the smallest details, this world is brought to life with epic battles and fascinating creatures that haven’t been dreamt of since Harry Potter, and if ever there was a series capable of matching that particular franchise, this could quite possibly be it. The blending of mythologies and science was truly captivating as Banks describes a world left in chaos after the ascension of the Darkness. Everywhere danger may be lurking, which is only made more palpable by students going missing out of one of the most well guarded buildings left in all of the world. This sets a fast paced tone that propels the characters on a mission not only to save their fellow students, but the school as well.

The characters themselves were instantly identifiable, with a group dynamic that was wonderfully written which truly made this into a spectacular ensemble read. The group dynamics mirror the angst of the main characters which only serves to make the story more compelling as you root for the characters to come together and work out their growing differences. While all of the characters are highly developed and engaging, the story follows Sarah Rivera, a smart and compassionate protagonist who cares deeply for those around her. The daughter of famous warriors Demali and Carlos Rivera, she is thrust into the limelight to suffer through the embarrassment and inner pain of simply having to endure a place within their shadow after being prophesized to become one of the predominant warriors in the next apocalyptic battle. The feelings of inadequacy plague her as she endures being sent into the new environment of the academy which ultimately sets up a fount of emotions as she deals with feelings such as exclusion, lust, and self worth. Likewise, many of her compound siblings also suffer with the feelings of fitting in within a new environment as well as coming to terms with their own individuality outside of their accepted ‘familial’ group. Peer pressure and budding romance serve as only a few of the underlying messages the author tries to impart to readers, making this novel not only dramatic but relevant as the attributes of kindness and consideration are presented to the reader.

The romance development within the novel also deserves quite a bit of mention as well because there is no doubt that Banks’ knows how to write it. From almost the beginning chemistry is brought into play as Sarah is put in the position of experiencing her first feelings of desire for not only her compound brother Val, but for Wil, a friendly and encouraging ally in the social minefield of the Academy. With two amazing suitors that she feels strongly towards, Sarah is drawn into an angst ridden battle between her heart and soul as she tries to decide how to deal with her feelings towards the two equally alluring males in her life.

But, underlying all of this is a great sense of adventure in a world where nothing is ever truly as it seems. The masterfully created action scenes within were colorfully written making them vivid and quite visceral as the students and Guardians alike struggle to find the missing students. The surrounding mystery was full of some amazing twists that I never saw coming and some realizations that made encompassed the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. The steady buildup through out the novel is perfectly led into a quick but creative climax and left the world ripe for yet another round of drama within the next installment which I can’t wait to read!

Overall, this was a great heart warming novel that kept me enthralled with its imagery and world development. The characters were interesting and endearing and the romance was maddening. With so many things left to explore it can easily be surmised that the following novels will be equally if not more amazing then the first. Fans of urban fantasy, paranormal romance and young adult novels with a heavy focus on a character’s journey will absolutely love this!

My rating: 4 out of 5 Scars


Unknown said...

Great review hon. Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of starting an L. A. Banks books, but I really want to. I hear about her all the time and it is so nice and refreshing to know an author who has racial diversity in their work. I really want this book, I hope to get this soon. Thank you for the great review hon.

Wenj said...

You're very welcome. And thank you for the kind comments. I think you'll definitely love LA Banks' novels, I was utterly impressed by her writing.

I have since picked up a couple more of her novels to read and look forward to starting her adult Vampire Huntress Legends series in the near future!