James Prescott is a man with a plan—one he developed as a young man and spent decades working toward. Along with his right-hand man, Aaron Bradford, Prescott unleashes his vision on the world: Avillage. They say it takes a village to raise a child, well, Prescott says it takes Avillage. The corporation finds extremely talented orphans, adopts them, and raises them to become exceptional and profitable adults. Boy genius, seven-year-old Ryan Tyler, Jr., is the first to be adopted by the corporation…just months after the tragic death of his parents. Ryan’s not so sure what he thinks about being raised by a board of directors, and he’s not sure who he can trust—especially after he meets some of the other Avillage kids. There’s Dillon (an insanely talented hacker and conspiracy theorist), J’Quarius (basketball prodigy), and Annamaria (party girl and supermodel from Panama). Will the kids uncover secrets about their pasts in time to save their futures?
This book came as a pleasant surprise. I was initially intrigued by the concept, but the first chapter dealt a crushing blow to my enthusiasm. By the end of chapter one, I knew the villain, his plan, and even his motive. I was unconvinced by the portrayal of seven-year-old Ryan as a small adult, rather than a young boy of above-average intelligence. It didn’t work for me. I didn’t honestly have much hope for the rest of the book, but fortunately I was wrong. After grumbling my way through the first three chapters, I found I really started to care about Ryan (then the other kids as they were introduced). I found it didn’t matter to me that I already knew the mystery—the whodunit. I wanted to see the kids uncover the truth and then see what they would do with that knowledge. Soon, I couldn’t put it down. By the conclusion, I had completely reversed my opinion. Despite a rocky beginning, I thoroughly enjoyed this read.
NOTES TO THE AUTHOR:
Just a few suggestions that may have helped your beginning. First of all, you have an incredibly action-packed event in the car crash, so having it presented as a flashback while the main character showers is…odd. Just dive into the action. Show the crash as it happens, then jump forward to the orphanage—probably where JR comes to visit. Part of what made Ryan’s character so unbelievable was the thought of a seven-year-old boy, awake early because of nightmares, choosing to spend that extra time in the shower. I guess there could be some boys that age who would voluntarily bathe without being told to, but I never met any. His character didn’t really change throughout the story, but became more believable as he actually grew up. I was glad for the jumps in time—it helped the story.
Also, your lay-it-all-out-there style and explanation of each person’s history and motivation is most unusual in a genre that relies on suspense. The technique eventually grew on me, but it’s generally better to show what’s happening and let the readers infer motives and deeper meanings. It was strange to know so much about Prescott right from the start. After reading the whole book, I’m not sure that I’d have you change it, though, since you do the same thing with every character, and it actually became pretty interesting to see everything laid out clearly. This is a strong first novel and I look forward to seeing more from you.
|Beverly Ann Publishers
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller