Review: Exiled by J.R. Wagner

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Never Chronicles
Exiled (The Never Chronicles #1)
by J.R. Wagner
Genre: young adult fantasy
Publication date: June 5th 2012
Pages: 288 (paperback)

Source: Advanced Review Copy from author
Purchase this book | GoodReads

James has never known an ordinary life. As long as he can remember, he and his family have been on the run—moving from place to place, never settling down, never growing roots. Now, just when he’s on the brink of manhood, the very thing his family has been trying to prevent tears him from all he has ever known and thrusts him into a place where he is powerless and alone. 
Bent on finding a way back, James must brave a place reserved for the worst of his kind. He quickly learns that the land itself poses a greater threat than its inhabitants and if he is to have any chance of returning, he must work with the very people he’s been raised to fear.
James has known magic since just after he was born. As a sorcerer, his skills are exceptional yet when he wakes in The Never, his abilities are gone. Armed with nothing but determination and the will to survive, he braves a land wrought with dangers, mysteries and temptations meant to ensnare both body and mind and prevent escape forever.
 Exiled is J.R. Wagner's debut YA fantasy set in the 19th century and introduces us to a dark new world of magic. Think Harry Potter + Alesana.

Let's start with the bits that bothered me a bit, shall we?

 First, the book started too slow and I wanted to skip a few parts just because they dragged on too much. Second, the book constantly switches between time periods, and I wasn't really a fan of that. The time-switching left me hanging a few times and had me confused, since they weren't really in any particular order and was all over the place. It was really a downer on my reading experience as a whole because I would forget details that were mentioned a few chapters back and I would get so frustrated.

And lastly, I felt that the characters were disappointing. Not in the sense that they were terrible, they were just too one-dimensional. They all had their specific roles and purpose, but they took it too seriously; almost in a robotic manner. And I didn't really connect with any of them at all.

I did enjoy this book, though. The story was very strong, and J.R. Wagner created a world full of horror and beauty that surprised me at every corner. It kept me on my toes and I could never guess what was going to happen! The writing style was amazing, and the attention to detail was impeccable. The places mentioned in the book felt so real and I saw them so clearly in my mind's eye. I also liked that even though the book is set in a fictional world, it deals with present real-world problems like political corruption. And I loved that the author had diversity in his characters.

Exiled finds it's strength in it's strong intriguing plot and realistic imagery. It definitely has potential, and has surpassed my expectations. I am definitely looking forward to the next installment!


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