Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus (Ameca J Chronicles #1) by Paul Xavier Jones

In full disclosure I won the first three books in this series in a Goodreads giveaway.

Synopsis "The Legacy of Menindus... Teenage life seems vastly unfair to fourteen year old Ameca or Ameca J, as she prefers to be called always being pressured by her Dad to watch out for her stupid and annoying ten year old sister, Fraya. But when the girls are mysteriously transported by The Spirit to a dangerously different world populated by mediaeval Men, noble Elves, magnificent Dragons, and savage creatures, Ameca s whole perspective has to change and change quickly if they are to escape the clutches of an evil entity known as the Scelestus, who wants them for the magical powers they did not even know they possessed. Their stressed out and overworked father, Paul is summoned by The Spirit to join his daughters in the mythical land of Mythrania, where he learns that they are the One, the Flame and the Flower . They are the heirs to the legendary High Magi, Menindus, who foretold of their coming to save this world and their own...But this is no fairytale; the dark entity known as the Scelestus has a plan to harness the power of the universe and to completely dominate all life...... Can Ameca and her family stop the Scelestus, and prevent a catastrophe that would see the enslavement of countless worlds, as well as the destruction of their own...?

Look out come the girls."

Review: The characters are excellent, with very interesting and a wide variety of personalities. Although the focus is on the main three characters in the family (plus the dog), the secondary characters get a good showing as well. I did think an appendix would have been useful to help remind me of who the different characters were (it took me most of the book to remember the difference between Kian and Delar)

You can really feel the characters thoughts and feelings in this book, they are also very believable. They have flaws, for example Ameca is often annoyed at her sister and is mean to her for no good reason, Paul sometimes is more concerned about what is happening to his business than he is about people. The relationships between the characters, and in particularly the family members is very well written.

The character development is also done well, even though the characters overcome much of there flaws and become better people, it is done one step at a time, for example Ameca starts to care about her sister but is still sometimes annoyed with her, this makes the book more realistic.

Although  they developed their powers quickly and to a high level, they are also given limitations which stops the main characters becoming too powerful.

A couple of times the characters act in a way that seems to be aimed at making the plot more exciting rather than in a realistic way. They also sometimes work out things too easily. None of this happens too often though so it doesn't matter too much.

The story is excellent, but is somewhat typical of a fantasy book, there are certain similarities with many traditional novels such as Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time and the Shanara series, although the plot is not a copy of any specific book. Occasionally the plot was predictable and there is a really obvious traitor that the characters are not able to figure out. The story does have some original parts to it.

The pacing is fast and it is easy to read this book quickly with all that is going on. There are some slower paced scenes that nicely balance out the pacing and give a more in-depth view of the characters and the world.

Another nice element was the fact the characters go though a realistic travel time between places, sometimes taking days to get from one destination to the next. The fast pacing of the book means that we are only given the necessary and interesting parts of the journey.

I did feel there was a bit of an overuse of the Spirit and prophecy to get the characters to do something. Typically if the characters were in disagreement about something, they would argue for a bit, then suddenly the Spirit would intervene or someone would quote a prophecy, then all the characters suddenly agree on the right course of action.

I thought the girls getting almost captured or captured for a short time before being rescued was a bit overdone and it became repetitive after a while, there was plenty of other things going on in the story, so it wasn't too bad.

The world building is interesting, usually we are given a brief description about the particular piece of the world. We are given enough detail to make it easy to follow without getting lost, but also we are not bogged down in too much world building. There were a couple of slow, world building scenes, for example about half way through the book there is a "Council of Elrond" style chapter, but it fits in well and provides a lot of information about the world, what is happening and what needs to be done, so it works out well in the end.

The author was very clever at putting in some small detail in a description that could almost be overlooked, but later turns out to be a big plot point.

There was references made by the characters to real world things, products, companies and movies (particularly Lord of the Rings) this added to the sense of realism in the book, it also made the similarities to things such as Lord of the Rings okay when the characters acknowledged the fact..

There was a "preview" chapter at the start of the book, it is a fast paced, action scene that occurs slightly later in the book. I didn't think it was necessary to have this preview, as it doesn't take long for the book to get exciting anyway, plus I personally don't think it's necessary to start a book with an action sequence to draw an audience in.

There were a couple of moments that were hard to believe or took me out of the story, a couple of the early battles were a little unrealistic, and I thought the characters powers developed a little too powerful too soon, also SPOILERS on page 102 Ameca and Paul are surprised that Freya swears because she only does so when really upset, considering they thought their dog had just apparently died, she probably has a good reason to be upset and they really shouldn't be shocked by it. The whole Large Hadron Collider element of the story has little to no basis on reality. Finally the fact the bad guys put two valuable prisoners in a cell together seemed unlikely, especially as they allowed them to escape for some "entertainment". END OF SPOILERS

Overall I really enjoyed this book, the characters are excellent, realistic and go through  a believable development. The story was wonderful, but is slightly spoiled by unbelievable moments.

rating: **** 1/2  stars


  1. Brilliant review, Richi! I'm glad you were mostly impressed with this one. I haven't come across it before, but you have me curious now. :)

  2. Glad to see you enjoyed this read so much seeing as you won it from Goodreads! Fantasy is hit or miss with me but this does sound good. Great review. :)