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David Klass has come up with a winner and I, for one, can't wait for the next two books in his "Caretaker" series. His young protagonist, Jack, is entirely real and convincing as he jump-starts the story with his perfect, teenage normalcy and brash tongue. He's a good student, a fine athlete, and a normally horny teenager when his life is sundered. He's shocked and distraught by his parents virtually tossing him out alone into the night--to save his life--so he can save the world. Of course, he doesn't believe any of this. How can he? It's all got to be a big joke, or a nightmare. But when he meets up with a telepathic dog and a shape-shifting woman who tell him he's humanity's best hope for the future, terrifying events finally force him to believe them, if not to trust them. All Jack can do is follow the quest appointed him, through danger, pain, growth, and learning, until his adventures culminate in the reaching of his goal, and he begins to see that the fantastic beings who have been guiding him were right.
The narrator, Ramon de Ocampo uses his wonderful talent for voice and accents to keep the characters alive and the story active, moving right along with the swift pace set by Klass's superb writing.
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What did you like best about Firestorm? What did you like least?
When trying to think what I liked best about Firestorm, I sadly can't recall anything that really stands out. I liked that they didn't use the typical "unbelievably well-behaved" stereotype for the teenage character, but I didn't like that they went for the "horny pervert" teen male stereotype instead. I liked that you couldn't always quite tell how things would work out, but I hated the deus ex machina pulled at the climax. I liked that it was written with thoughts to expand the novel's universe in a series, but I disliked the lackluster "ending" to this part.
I was persuaded to do a book talk at a school where I taught science for a couple years. I was given this book because it "has all of that sciencey stuff you like, right?" In a lot of ways, I think the problem was that this book tried to do too much of that "sciencey stuff" and did a lot of it poorly. I like time-travel stories, but that connection was forced and poorly explained. I like mutations, but those seemed over-the-top. I even like nature, but the vague "I want this to look like it has some ecological perspective" brow-beating and the "we can't actually do anything about the destruction of the environment without magic" climax send mixed messages and ultimately seem to be weak excuses for plot devices.
The students and I ended up discussing better literature and the concepts of time-travel ignored here. The only thing we all seemed to like was the "stream of consciousness" writing style which did help the pace.
Has Firestorm turned you off from other books in this genre?
No, I consider it to be a weak imitation of good science fiction.
What about Ramon de Ocampo???s performance did you like?
Honestly, his performance was the only thing that made this book bearable. I picked up the audiobook as I had a busy schedule where I would be doing a lot of driving and could "read on the way." Ramon de Ocampo kept a great pace and enunciated clearly. His "female" voice needs work, but that gave me a good laugh at its sheer creepiness.
Did Firestorm inspire you to do anything?
Yes, to avoid reading anything else written by David Klass.
Any additional comments?
Save your money/credits; there are much better Young Adult novels on Audible.