Young adult fiction is a genre that has really blown up in the last few years with the adventures of Bella Swan and Katniss Everdeen. It’s also a genre that can be widely scorned with lacklustre plots, poor characterisation and simple use of the English language. However, I do like to dip in and out of it every now and then.
One recent jaunt into the young adult fiction genre was reading an up and coming novel called Sentinel by Joshua Winning, the first book of a planned trilogy of the same name. Set in modern day Cambridge, the premise may seem a little familiar, a young orphaned child with a family secret he is yet to find out; ominous end of world shenanigans; a wise yet gnarly old companion; a sexy yet deadly mistress of evil etc – but don’t stop there.
If that does seem all too familiar to you then you’ll be surprised how the author Josh weaves a plot with such speed you will not realise his clever characterisation whilst doing so.
Whereas most protagonists you read about in this genre seem to have a chip on their shoulder or resent the world and everyone in it, protagonist Nicholas is different. The loss that Nicholas suffers early on is never forgotten about but it seems that he really doesn’t have time to process it. Plot hole you say? Not here it isn’t. Nicholas doesn’t dwell. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself – he doesn’t allow himself to. Which to be honest is a great move on from other hard done by protagonists in recent books of the same ilk.
Supporting Nicholas in his transition and also helping us find out who are the Sentinels is Sam, the gnarly old man. Now reading what Sam can do at his wise old age, he is certainly a man that I would want on my side. Yes he’s part mysterious, a thorn in Nicholas’ side when Nicholas wants to know certain truths but he’s also quite the agile badass in a scuffle! There is more than meets the eye with this man.
Bringing darkness to the world is done in the form of Malika, the crazy-haired evil mistress. She is the main nemesis of this novel but there is a greater evil that she is working for. But also think she has an agenda of her own.
The rest of the supporting characters both good and bad help drive the action along and bolster the main characters. Before you know it, the end is in sight and the next thing you’re thinking about is the epilogues and who is this girl?
For a debut novel in an incredibly dense genre I did find the whole thing engaging and kept my interest; which is why it only took me two days to finish it.
Go get it and read it – simple!