Friday, 6 July 2018

Independence Realm by Kevin J. Bernadt

Independence RealmTitle: Independence Realm
Author: Kevin J. Bernadt
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from the author for an honest review
Pages: 278
Rating: 3.5/5
Blurb: Allets and Ryan, best friends and polar opposites since kindergarten, plan to enjoy one last afternoon together before departing for college, going separate ways for the first time in their lives. The appearance of their vivacious high school classmate, Maria, takes them by surprise, but not as much as a magnificent late-summer storm that changes all of their plans.
Transitioned to an entirely new world, Independence Realm, they become embroiled in a society engulfed with the ageless struggle between liberty and tyranny. Now Allets, Ryan, and Maria find themselves risking their lives to free three heroic Revolutionaries and defeat the tyrannical king and queen.
After receiving guidance from the enigmatic Dr. Richards, Shepherd of the realm and Key Portal Controller, the trio must navigate the dangers of Independence Realm as they courageously face the bloody battles of life and death in the Chamber Wars arena, decipher the perilous puzzles of the Riddling Run, and match wits with the tantalizing Princess of Prose.
Desperate to return home and even more desperate to stay alive, their entire future—and the fate of Independence Realm—hangs in the balance.

I was drawn to Independence Realm because I love these stories where our characters live everyday (slightly boring lives) and then they're suddenly dumped into a whole different world and the weight of that entire world is put on their shoulders. It also went full Wizard of Oz with the whole "you cant get home till you've fixed this world". Plus I love the cover. 

Our main characters, Maria, Ryan and Allets, are introduced rather suddenly. Allets and Ryan were already friends whilst Maria is more of an unknown. I initially disliked Maria, perhaps because I was seeing her through the (ever so slightly jealous) eyes of Allets. But she grew on me. She has an infectious joy and exuberant personality that makes her a delight to read - even if I couldn't super identify with her. A was more easily relatable, at least to me. A bookworm (seriously so many book references here) with a love of learning who kept getting pre-occupied with how this all happened whilst Ryan and Maria were just enjoying it. Which is so very me. Ryan was my least favourite character, probably just because I never felt like I got a handle on him. Allets was relatable and Maria was likable but Ryan, kind of forgettable. But that's fine because you're never going to love every character and being attached to 2 out of the main 3 is a pretty good start point. 

The world itself was super intriguing to me, Independence Realm was a sort of parallel universe where they learned from different periods of Earths development. So you had taverns with old-timey clothing and social mores but also more modern technology, gladiator style rings but then Harry Potter novels. And as a bit of a history lover it was fun to see past and present collide to make a completely unique world. I did wish the world was more fully developed upon, it's a short book and a lot is happening so I understand but I do love world building and I just wanted to know more. 

Plot wise this felt a lot like a video game. And I mean that in a good way. It felt very linear and quest-y which is something I actually love sometimes. Sort of "first go here, do this, then on to the next task". Which made for a nice reading experience that felt a little bit like a series of short stories in an overarching narrative. I also loved the section with riddles because oh boy do I love riddles (plus I felt like a genius when I solved them first).

I definitely think some good editing would be really beneficial. There is definite overuse of metaphors and sometimes two words are used that mean the same thing - but none of this ruined my enjoyment of the story or of the characters. Independence Realm had its faults, but the core world and characters were so much fun and since that's what matters most to me in any story - this was a good read for me and I definitely would love to read more. 

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