I've just listened to the best audio book ever.
That may be a little bit superfluous, but I don't care, I loved it.
I bought this book because it was on Audible's list of the best books of last year, and they were right.
The book is called Dawn of Wonder, and it is the first book in a series called The Wakening by Jonathan Renshaw. From what I understand, this is Mr. Renshaw's first published work, and he is off to an amazing start.
As a synopsis with spoilers only for the first few chapters (of a total of sixty six or so), I will say this book is about a 12 year old boy whose best friend is kidnapped and sold to be sacrificed by a strange civilization. He then chooses to dedicate his life to avenging her death.
The first thing that I noticed about the book, listening to the sample chapter, was the delicious way Renshaw described the natural world and its unnatural disturbances. Beautiful, detailed descriptions are given to the fantastic "pearlnut trees" as well as to more familiar features of the landscape.
This book is definitely high fantasy in the sense that it takes place in some fictional world, but there are only a few instances of things that could be considered magical. I would say the book is mostly pretty grounded in rational ideas, but occasionally something that resembles the supernatural does happen.
I would describe the action sequences as being over the top. In trying to describe violence, puzzles, and traps, I would say it's along the lines of Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribbean. It resembles slapstick, but it is serious, and the actions of the characters do have consequences.
I would say this first book in the series is appropriate for most young adult readers. I would be remiss in failing to mention that there is a copious amount of child abuse in the book. There is no lewd content or foul language, but it does deal with some very heavy themes (like slavery), and it also features a copious amount of violence.
Overall, I think the word outstanding fairly describes this ambitious first entry in The Wakening series. I await the second installment with much anticipation. I don't have any theories about where it's going to go from here, which is a rare thing for me.