Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Hunter Chronicles: Return to Exile by E.J. Patten

The Hunter Chronicles: Return to Exile by E. J. Patten
"Eleven years ago, a shattered band of ancient monster hunters captured an unimaginable evil and Phineas T. Pimiscule rescued his nephew, Sky, from the wreckage of that great battle. For eleven years, Sky Weathers has studied traps, puzzles, science, and the secret lore of the Hunters of Legend believing it all a game. For eleven years, Sky and his family have hidden from dark enemies while, unbeknownst to Sky, his uncle Phineas sacrificed everything to protect them.

For eleven years, Sky Weathers has known nothing of that day.

But on the eve of Sky's twelfth birthday and his family's long-awaited return to the town of Exile, everything changes. Phineas has disappeared, and Sky finds himself forced to confront the mysterious secrets he's denied for so long: why did his family leave Exile on that day so long ago? What, exactly, has Phineas been preparing him for? And, the biggest mystery of all, who is Sky really and why does everyone want to kill him?!

Featuring an action-packed plot that covers the gamut of every monster you've never heard of (not to mention weird powers and weapons made out of garbage), Return to Exile is brimming with boy and girl appeal and is a gem for reluctant young readers. And, with a diverse assortment of well-aged monster hunters in the cast, this series will be a hit with adults young and old as well. Recommended for ages 9+." (jacket summary)
It took me a few chapters to get into this book as it seemed to follow the typical pattern of all middle grade fantasies. So, I slogged through the introduction chapters and realized that I liked Phineas, Sky’s quirky and strange uncle. When Phineas disappeared I thought that was also a typical and predictable part of middle grade fantasy. Then it became apparent that his disappearance meant that Sky and his family were in danger. They had only moved to their old town of Exile because of a truce arranged by Phineas, but now that he was gone Sky and his family had no promises of protection. Sky’s father sneaks out in the middle of the night to reason with the group of hunters that threatens the family safety, and Sky decides to follow him.
Sky discovers that the town of Exile holds all the answers to his Uncle’s riddles and stories over the years. That monsters really do exist because an entire pack of them nearly tear him limb from limb, but a rag tag team of teenagers save him at the last moment with innovative weapons made from garbage and serious scientific innovation. This is when the story started to get really fun for me. Sky makes friends with this monster fighting group, who aren’t associated with the hunters officially. Together they try to keep the monsters from harming others in the town and try to keep the prison that houses the Arkhon from failing.
 The prison exists on Phineas’ land and is set to fail very soon. The Arkhon is a  horrible monster that is greatly feared, but if he wasn't bad enough others of other monsters are also locked in the prison with him. If they escape the entire town will be ravaged and destroyed. Inside of all this threat and chaos lie the answers to why Sky’s family is in danger in the first place.
 This story is full of interesting and funny characters. I found the monsters to be unique and formidable foes. I got hooked into the story and really enjoyed the world. Sometimes it feels like the story has too much going on in a few of the ending scenes, but I still loved some of the major plot twists the author managed to pull off.  Overall, the book was a very enjoyable action-oriented fantasy read.   
Check out more about the series at E.J. Patten's Blog. He has trailers and even his own original song for the series under the extras tab.


Charlotte said...

I agree--the beginning didn't really give me a sense of how the story would play out--but once I realized that this wasn't a Fantasy Land story, and things in Exile got going, I enjoyed it.

Gamila said...

Yeah, it wasn't until I sat down and tried to write a review that I realized just how detailed the world was. You could spend a lot of time describing this book. It has a lot of layers and a pretty complicated plot for MG. I did end up liking too.