Friday, August 7, 2015

Book Review: The Never Hero

The Never Hero (Chronicles of Jonathan Tibbs #1)
Author: T. Ellery Hodges
Published by: Foggy Night Publishing
Publication Date: 1 January 2014
Page Count: 429
Buy it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon
Source: e-book provided by author
Audience: Young Adult - Sci-Fi, Super Hero

I don't read many science fiction books.  Of all the genres, this is the one I find is the hardest to imagine while reading.  I will be honest in saying, when I first read the synopsis, I was imagining more of a paranormal aspect; Buffy the Vampire Slayer came to mind.  The Never Hero combines Urban Fantasy and the paranormal with Science Fiction, though, and I had no problems visualizing the story.

The Never Hero is about Jonathan, a 22-year old college student with no more ambition or thoughts of the future other than finishing school the next year.  His life is completely altered one night when he is attacked in his house, seemingly left for dead, lying in a pool of his own blood, but with no visible injuries.  The doctors can't seem to find anything wrong with him and the police don't believe his crazy story.  He tries to go back to his normal routine, but can't seem to get past the attack.  Then one night, two weeks after the attack, a monster from another world attacks downtown Seattle and it seems to trigger something inside him.  He is all of the sudden stronger than ever and he can actually feel exactly where the monster is.  He knows he must face the monster and defeat it, before it kills anymore people.  After that, he realizes that whoever attacked him was setting him up to fight these creatures whenever and wherever they appeared. He struggles to accept this as his life changes completely.  He drops out of school, starts getting into shape and taking fighting lessons.  His roommates have no idea what is going on and why he has changed so much.  Jonathan's mission is clear, but he can tell no one about it.

Let me start out by saying that I love the way the author writes.  His writing is very descriptive and detailed.  I can easily visualize what he is trying to say.  I had no problems imagining what the creature looks like, or how the main character changes throughout the story.  His words immediately immersed me in the world he created and it was always compelling me to read on.  

I still say that even though the story is more sci-fi, there are still aspects of urban fantasy, as I said before, with similarities to Buffy the vampire slayer and possibly Spiderman.  The story is not unique, but still a very good read.  What I like is the author knows this, he incorporates the pop culture movies into Jonathan's training.  Jonathan watches Rocky and Karate Kid, Batman and Superman, to understand his role of defending the human race against these alien creatures.  It's a very creative and strategic way of getting around the cliche that is becoming super hero movies and books.

Jonathan is a very strong character.  He is thrown into this war between worlds with no real choice in the matter.  Fight or die and another will take his place.  He doesn't want to hand this burden over to someone else, too filled with guilt at the prospect, so he chooses to fight.  He changes his entire life to become the best he can be, to be prepared for the next attack.  How many people would have the courage to stand up against overwhelming odds and fight?  How many would take the coward's way out?  
I loved the supporting characters, as well: Jonathan's so-called "entourage," the female love interest, the man trying to help Jonathan with the fight.  They are colorful and more than just two dimensional; they have backstories, and you find yourself wanting to know more about them.  Some of the backstories and ongoing story lines for the secondary characters seem unfinished, though.  You get tidbits and you expect to find out more about them as you continue reading, but they are never revealed.
I felt the story had a few holes in it, questions left unanswered, and I hope these holes are filled in the continuing story.  I was confused at times, not sure if it was done on purpose, or if the story may have changed mid-write, changing the continuity and these errors were missed in the final edit.  

All in all, it was a well written story and I am intrigued enough to want to read the next books in the series, to get the answers to my questions.  It is telling, that I do want to read on, find out if the pieces of all the things I touched on in this review will come together in an interlocking completed puzzle with all the answers revealed.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes superhero or sci-fi reads and who has the patience to wait for the answers. 

I wouldn't recommend this for younger readers as the violence is quite graphic.

One Last Thought: Though I enjoyed reading the book, I feel it dragged on a bit in the middle.  You go from one fight at the beginning of the book to the last fight at the end.  All the in-between is watching Jonathan train and develop, getting ready for battle.  It was never boring to me, but anyone looking for an action packed novel from beginning to end will most likely be disappointed.

Favorite Thing About the Book:  I loved the comradery and genuine love and friendship that is shared between Jonathan and his roommates.  They have developed a strong bond and I hope that in the next books, this bond carries on.

First Sentence: It was cold in the elevator shaft.

Favorite Character: Jonathan

Least Favorite Character: Grant

At the gates between worlds...

In a war outside of time...
He fights for us.

Reclusive college student Jonathan Tibbs wakes in a pool of blood, not a scratch on him. His life is about to undergo a massive shift. A violent and merciless otherworldly enemy unleashes slaughter in the streets, calling out in a language only he understands.
And it is seeking its challenger.

In order to defeat the threat, Jonathan must become a temporal weapon... while remaining completely anonymous. Unfortunately, harnessing off-world powers has its own special challenges...

The Never Hero is the first installment in The Chronicles of Jonathan Tibbs -- a mind-bending, genre crossing, action-adventure trilogy.

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