review: xor the shape of darkness

30 June 2012

book info:
ages: 9 and up
grades: 3 and up
on sale: now (amazon)
copy from: author
pages: 295

title: XOR: The Shape of Darkness
author: Moshe Sipper

On his twelfth birthday Lewis Nash comes home from school to find that his house has blown up to smithereens, killing his father. Having lost his mother in an accident four years earlier, Lewis realizes he is now an orphan — but he has no time to dwell on it. The moment he gets off the school bus a fearsome wolf-man tries to grab him. The boy is saved in the nick of time by Master Long, who reveals to him that he’s a Shaper from a place called Xor, which is being devoured by the Realm Pirates. Lewis learns that he must do his utmost to become the powerful Shaper he was destined to be.

Because, it would seem, he’s the one and only chance Xor has.

I was asked by the author, Moshe Sipper, to review this book. I thought, of course, that it was a science fiction for young adults, and eagerly accepted. But I soon found out that it's a more appropriately middle grade book that's ninety-nine percent fantasy fiction.

In the mind of a middle grader, I still would not have enjoyed this book. There are so many things I didn't like, so I'll make a bullet point list. Hopefully, it'll be constructive criticism and not just plain rude thoughts:

  • The beginning is WAY too fast. I'd like some time to adjust and fall into the story, not be forced into it head on
  • There's too much "explaining". It's like Lewis asks questions so often and gets them answered that it seems like it's just a book with little story and too much explanation going on.
  • Xor is not a believable planet. Apparently, it was once part of Earth and split off. Where did it go? How can it be far away. All these questions aren't answered.
  • Writing a whole new planet, I've discovered while writing my science fiction one, is incredibly difficult. For instance, one doesn't call a Spaniard "Earthling". One calls him a "human" or "Spaniard". We don't say "He was in the continent of Africa", we'd say "He's in Namibia" Xor seems too...unrealistic and too...poorly written? 
  • There's little characterisation and not enough small details written in about each character
All in all, I think this book could use a lot more work on it. I wouldn't recommend it to guys, but maybe consider it for a primary school-er or elementary school-er. So I, to my regret and sorrow, have to give this book one tree. I don't post a review if the book is bad, but since the author sent me a copy in exchange for one, I've written it.

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