Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Zan-Gah, by Allan Richard Shickman

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric AdventureZan is a young boy living in a prehistoric land.  He wins tribal infamy when he slays a lion, and quickly becomes respected by neighboring tribes as well as his own.  Having faced this danger, he decides to seek out his missing twin brother, Dael, who has been gone for some time.  He strikes out on the journey alone, a journey that takes many months.  He learns of a new threat to his people, in the form of tribes of wasp men.  Once he find Dael, he helps unite the tribes in his area to fight off the wasp men.  Zan will be long remembered as a wise and brave warrior.

I will admit, young adult prehistoric fiction was not exactly at the top of my 2011 to read list, but I was given an opportunity to read this book, and boy howdy am I ever glad I did!  What a fantastic book this turned out to be.  It was chock full of action, and helped promote character building qualities like loyalty, wisdom, and bravery.  I am really impressed with this story.

Zan is not the kind of character you get to know on a deeply personal level, but that serves a real purpose in the book.  We will never relate to Zan; instead, we should hold him in esteem, as we do great historic figures.  And Zan's character is still very well developed.  By the end of the book, I honestly forgot this was a prehistoric story, because the themes are so universal, particularly that of different people becoming one group to overcome a common enemy.  We see that happening all the time.

Though this is a young adult book, there are a couple of scenes that are a little gruesome.  They add to the story, and do have a place in the book, I only mention it because it may make the book more appropriate for high school readers than for middle grade readers.  I think young male readers will especially like the book, and that is a market that rarely gets catered to, so I love the book all the more for that reason.

There is a sequel which I look forward to reading and reviewing in the coming days.
I received a review copy of this book courtesy of the editor and publisher.

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