3.0 out of 5 stars
Josh Anvil - boy wonder., 17 April 2013
Josh Anvil, a 14 year old boy from Louisiana, goes canoeing one day in the swamps and comes upon aliens who accidentally bestow upon him super powers. Gradually, Josh learns that some of those powers include the ability to materialize dragons, people, islands in the sky, as well as to heal the injured and sickly. However it takes his parents to show him how best to use these powers. When the story opens, his home town of Baton Rouge is being ravaged by fires. An arsonist is causing havoc throughout the city and his father and best friend, both firefighters, have been injured. Josh uses his powers to heal the men and that is the plot line I expected the story to take off from. However that ends up being a back-story that simmers for a good portion of the novel. The main thrust of the story involves how Josh learns and develops his powers. The author shows no shortage of creative ability in developing the supernatural aspects of his tale much to the delight, I'm sure, of his teen readers. But to me the supernatural has much more impact when contrasted against the natural world. The more natural and believable the world around him, the more believable become the fantasy elements. It's here that this aspect and some inconsistencies work against the tale. For example, Josh is a member of a story-telling group and faces a competition to be named the best story teller. But when the boys gather, other members are awarded their ranks instead of having to compete. In another chapter two 18 year old policemen find Josh in a field and draw their guns on him for no apparent reason. Later on an FBI agent kidnaps and tortures him to get some information. These turns may seem dramatic to young readers but unless there is a context for them, or they are based upon realistic motivations, they lose their punch. Toward the end Josh's friends develop super powers as well but how they came upon them is never really explained. Characters are written in and dismissed, adding little impact to the overall story. The chapters also seem self-contained making the book more episodic rather than plot driven. What I mean is, problems arise and are solved in each chapter. I would have liked to have seen a dramatic thread that pushes the protagonist into his journey from the beginning and leads the reader through each chapter to make us want to know what happens next. The author certainly sets up a number of interesting avenues for the protagonist to investigate including the arson plaguing his city and/or tracking down the aliens who are planning some type of nefarious action. That much is great stuff for young readers.