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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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Review: The Iron-Jawed Boy by Nikolas Lee (Oh, Hey, Math!)

The Iron-Jawed Boy by Nikolas Lee

Sky Guardian Chronicles #1
Nikolas Lee
Publication Date: July 2013
Publisher: Parthenon Publishing House

Year 2300
Protea: Capitol of the Eldanarian Isle

Two hundred years have passed since the lands of the Outerworld humans were destroyed, save but a handful of rebellious cities. In their ruin, the last gods of Earth, the Illyrians, rose victorious. And ever since, it's with a cruel iron fist they've ruled over their subjects--desperate to keep their thrones.

Fast approaching his teens, Ionikus Reaves knows the gods' malevolence all too well, orphaned by them after their call for a military draft on Eldanar, his home island. But when a power once dormant in Ion boils to the surface, he's whisked off to a hidden world of the island, where he comes face-to-face with the mighty Illyrians.

For Ion is a Guardian--a reincarnated god bound to serve and protect the pantheon he's so quickly learned to hate. Now torn between his obligations as a Guardian and his hatred of the gods he's to guard, Ion finds himself in the middle of a war within himself. A war that could uncover a dark secret of the gods'...and split the pantheon in two.
Review copy provided by author for review

Apparently when I first saw the title before the synopsis, I thought it was either a) a boy by the name of Ionikus Reaves has so strong of a jaw, it's like Iron! Or b) the same boy was apparently born with an oddity. Obviously I was wrong, but the cover doesn't seem to have a guy with a jaw nor did the synopsis said anything about iron jaws, so I had to make my own assumptions. *shrugs*

The Iron-Jawed Boy reminds me so much of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, or more accurately speaking, Hogwarts for reincarnated gods ("little" gods probably doesn't work out so well, although technically the characters are "little"). Of course, The Iron-Jawed Boy does have its own moments as well that sets it apart, thus presenting the not so complicated graphical equations of The Iron-Jawed Boy. Warning: Lots of Potter and Jackson references.

The Achaean Academy, which is more similar to Hogwarts than Camp Half-Blood, is where the majority of the book takes place. The CVEs are similar to the OWLs in HP, and the races – giants, elves, dwarves, Guardians, etc – are similar to the Houses in HP but more like the different kids in PJ (I don't mean pajamas). On the bright side, they're not called BATs or CATs or some other three letter animal (PETs?). Ion does start out working for a judge by the name of Sir Dread, which I have to say is very well named, before actually finding out he's a reincarnated god and starts at the Academy.

As other reviewers have mentioned, Ion has the naivety of a young Harry and the age of Percy. Possibly his naivety as well, but what twelve year old hasn't done anything really stupid (though if you're saying you were a perfect angel child, well, I'm dubious)? Although in my case, it was blurting out my opinions, which not everyone appreciated. Sorry? But it's not like I can actually turn back time (I wish)... and I tend to stay in a turtle shell most of the time most of the time... unless you're one of my close friends.

There's not exactly one Hermione, there's 2. Or maybe I should just say Annabeth was really depressed about Percy being missing and ran away, thus running into the Achaean Academy. It was all an unfortunate accident. ;) Being Ion's sister, she's quite the bookworm, and she raises her hand... A LOT (Hermione does it too in the first HP). What makes her really similar to Annabeth is her nickname for Ion: Oinker (Seaweed Brain?). As for Lillian – another Guardian – I can't really say if she is exactly like Hermione, but her words of wisdom for Ion made it seem so.

Probably what I really didn't like was how the gods just didn't seem very... mature. Othum is like Dumbledore in some cases, but most of the time he's just... bubbly, like Dionysus. What an extremely odd combo. Really cheery, and that's usually what you don't expect from a god, who apparently has an entire world to take care of. I suppose the dude is taking YOLO seriously, but he's immortal. There's no YOLO. There's YOLF – You Only Live Forever.

In a nutshell, well written debut novel, lots of similarities to Percy Jackson and Harry Potter but certainly not too much. Definitely a good read for avid middle grade and mythology readers out there to try!

3.5 Owls

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Sophia is the owner and founder of Bookwyrming Thoughts, but also found on various parts of the internet. She's a 19-year-old communications major who has weird humor and doesn't fit the Asian stereotype (maybe a little). Books, chocolate, technology, and music are among some of her favorite things. For more of her work, visit her personal website.