By N.D. Wilson
Published April 19, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Reviewed from e-ARC
Sam Miracle has strange dreams. Sometimes, they even feel real. Soon, Sam will discover that these dreams are more than that - they're memories of the lives he's lived in pursuit of destroying someone so evil, he's been fighting him for hundreds of years. But, this life, this time, may be his last chance. With help from a new friend, Sam Miracle is going to try to finally put an end to this battle once and for all.
You know, I don't even really know what I want to say about this book. My first experience with N.D. Wilson was Dragon's Tooth, book one in another series. I went on to read book two (but still haven't gotten to book three), as well as a stand-alone title of his. I very much enjoyed them all, so I fully expected that I'd enjoy his newest title.
Unfortunately, this one didn't work for me. Much like the Ashtown Burials series, there is a lot happening in this world that Wilson has created. Maybe too much for me. I actually frequently found myself skimming because the explanations of how this world worked were not holding my interest. Additionally, I did not connect with Sam as a character at all; I found myself with little to no investment in whether or not he survived this next battle. Likely, my inability to engage with Sam is because Sam himself doesn't fully know or understand who he is. It's an interesting idea to explore, but it felt alienating to read about someone who is so ambiguously characterized.
On a similar note, I found the secondary characters to be wholly disappointing, if not downright troubling. The female characters in this book exist only to help the development of Sam: his sister has been repeatedly tortured and killed, driving Sam's motivation for seeking vengeance. Glory, who initially begins as a pretty independent female character, soon devolves into being Sam's keeper, monitoring his safety and well-being through their adventures. There are several Native American characters as well, but none of them seem to rise above the "magical Indian" stereotype. I'd be interested in seeing other people's reactions to these characters - most of the Goodreads reviews I've seen are overwhelmingly positive, and a quick search of Deb Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature site doesn't seem to turn up a review for this title yet.
Overall, I'm sadly disappointed in this one and unsure if I'll read book two. If others have a different opinion, feel free to let me know in the comments. Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.