My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Amos the Amazing follows the adventures of twelve-year-old Amos as he chases the huli jing, a fox-spirit trickster, into Dreamland in an effort to recover the missing half of his soul and find a way to cure his ailing grandfather.
Set both in a future solarpunk Chongqing and a fantasy world of Kai's device, Amos the Amazing, in a nutshell, is a strange juxtaposition of many things. It is both futuristic - with fancy tech, robots and trips to the moon - and yet ancient - a medieval-type fantasy world with dragons, forgotten ruins, artefacts, and myths from the past. It's a modern story filled with fantastical ideas and places, yet written in an old-school style: a story-within-a-story, with a mysterious Storyteller telling Alice and her friends about his book about a boy named Amos.
Is this Amos the same boy that Alice once knew? Who is the Storyteller and why is he telling this story to Alice? Will Alice ever find out what happened to her friend Amos and reconnect with Ruby? All that is part of the mystery leading on to the second book in the series. (A very cool preview
of a Harry-Potteresque book 2 is included at the end of this one.)
But before we get there, let's jump back to the juxtapositions because it felt like there was just a bit too much of it. There's a little dissonance between the text and the reader, a bit of unwieldiness in the reading. It's not exactly a hard read - and yet the text is heavy. Kai seems to favour long sentences (a pet peeve of mine) that merge a lot of thoughts together. There are wonderful descriptions of everything - to the point where it feels over-described and I can't quite see it anymore.
I can't quite pinpoint who his main audience is. It feels like it should be something between an MG or YA story, mostly because the main protagonists are an irresponsible 12YO boy and a coming-of-age 17YO girl. And yet the language and the rhythms he uses feel more adult literary, maybe because of all the in-text literary references and in-jokes.
Still, these are all just quibbles, mostly around reading tastes and/or preferences. Amos the Amazing was quite an interesting read full of unexpected events, major character growth, and lovely illustrations. I'd give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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