Author: J.R Wagner
Publication Date: June 5th, 2012
Publisher: Live Oak Book Company
Synopsis:James has never known an ordinary life. As long as he can remember, he and his family have been on the run—moving from place to place, never settling down, never growing roots. Now, just when he’s on the brink of manhood, the very thing his family has been trying to prevent tears him from all he has ever known and thrusts him into a place where he is powerless and alone. Bent on finding a way back, James must brave a place reserved for the worst of his kind. He quickly learns that the land itself poses a greater threat than its inhabitants and if he is to have any chance of returning, he must work with the very people he’s been raised to fear. James has known magic since just after he was born. As a sorcerer, his skills are exceptional yet when he wakes in The Never, his abilities are gone. Armed with nothing but determination and the will to survive, he braves a land wrought with dangers, mysteries and temptations meant to ensnare both body and mind and prevent escape forever.
My Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I tend to enjoy stories with magic, witches, wizards, any of that good stuff. Mostly because I wish so badly magic was real haha. This one was definitely a unique one though. The word witch or wizard is never used, instead magic users are referred to as sorcerers or "The Faithful" and the non- magic users are called the "Un-Faithful". The idea in this story is that everyone in the world is capable of magic. All that is required is complete faith and belief that magic exists, if you believe you will gain the power to wield magic. I really enjoyed this dynamic, it was something really new and unique. Usually in stories involving magic you don't get a choice whether you can wield magic or not so that was a nice new twist. Unfortunately most people are scared of magic and shun the idea. It's pretty much taboo. It's been getting progressively worse to the point that now there are very few magic users and they are at risk to becoming non-existent.
The main character James is part of a prophecy that is supposed to stop this from happening. Here's the kicker though, he's just a kid. When his father finds out about this prophecy James is just a toddler. His father immediately starts training himself in magic so he can protect his son as he grows. However things don't really go as planned, James ends up being banished to The Never. The Never is one scary place! I loved the chapters that took place in The Never. It's a place where the world itself is in control. It's like sentient and self-aware...And it's not a happy, nice thing. It's cruel and hard, you are constantly surrounded by life threatening dangers. James is thrust there unexpectedly and is faced by the massively unknown. All he does know is that he has to find a way back out, but no one has ever come back from The Never. The only tools he knows how to use, being his great magic abilities, are stripped from him. How will he survive in a world that seeks to destroy it inhabitants? But survive he must if he is to escape and stop the Epoch Terminus, which is the end of magic.
But poor James has had to grow up with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He has constantly lived in a giant shadow of expectation. I can't imagine having to deal with the things he has at his age. He is one strong young man. A lot of people in his situation would succumb to cowardice, but not James. That being said, he does indeed feel the massive weight. Wherever he goes in life all these great things are expected of him. He doesn't feel special, or superior, but he holds steady and tries to fill the spot expected of him just the same. I really liked James for these reasons. Despite being the "chosen one" he remains a humble, strong, brave, person. He doesn't crumble under the weight placed upon him, and he also doesn't go the opposite and become cocky and conceited, believing himself to be so much better than others. He is just a regular guy trying to find his place in life, with this prophecy hanging over his head.
The story switches back and forth between past and present constantly. I think this is a tricky idea to pull off without confusing the reader but Wagner seems to pull it off easily. It's written in such a way that while we are reading about James' experiences in The Never we are also learning about the past and all the events that lead up to where he is now. It made the read an even funner adventure because it was like watching a puzzle being put together piece by piece. It also kept the story exciting, because we weren't left reading a bunch of lead up before getting to the more intense stuff. Not that the pieces from the past were any less boring in this case. But it was interesting and fun to switch back and forth. I am quite eager to see what happens next! By the time this review is posted there will only be another 5 days till the book is released. I would definitely recommend it! I hope we don't have to wait to long before book #2 comes out! I want some more Never adventures, and to read more about James. Thanks so much to J.R Wagner for sending me an ARC copy of his book! I really liked the story and I'm excited for book #2.