"The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses" by K.N. Smith
This is about as contemporary Young Adult as it gets. Smith’s book very nicely encapsulates the standard elements of a group of high school friends who encounter a mystical force which gives them enhanced powers, then have to protect their hometown against a mysterious and malevolent villain. Whilst there is, in fairness, nothing particularly outstanding about Discovery of the Five Senses, it isn’t a bad book, either. The author K.N. Smith, however, seems something of a rough gem of a talent, and is perhaps the standout takeaway. Her general use of language and syntax are more sophisticated than I think this particular book gives her credit for, and I can’t help thinking that with a significant burst of narrative creativity, she is capable of delivering something very good indeed. As for this particular title, it doesn’t really stand out in any notable way beyond this. The usual tropes are there, but the story itself is a little on the light side, and in fact for the most part I wasn’t really sure of the degree – and therefore event the nature – of threat posed by the antagonist. That this seems to be simply a powerful and dark stranger, intent on wreaking violent havoc on a small town, didn’t seem to be enough to me; I would expect there to be more megalomaniac ambitions, particularly when it is revealed how long his campaign has been running for. Whatever, maybe I’m the one who has read too many YA novels. This is clearly intended as the first in a series of books, with surely an ongoing, underlying narrative and backstory, so I expect that Smith will take us much deeper into a fantastical world, with greater set-pieces and bigger threats, which I wasn’t so much feeling with this one.
But, as mentioned, Smith herself is one to watch, and I would be interested to see what she gives us next. The book is written well, the diction is good, and there is some very plausible and naturalistic character interaction. The characters themselves are likeably flawed and more realistic than some – which is also testament to the natural ability Smith undoubtedly has for creative writing. This book would perhaps be suited to entry-level YA readers, rather than those more enveloped in the whole genre’s cultural scene. There is some violence, some of it indeed surprising, so it may not be suitable for very young readers, but at the same time older ones may question the depth of the story. Still, if you’re looking for a YA series with promise, from a clearly talented, up and coming author, this is definitely a good bet for you.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: k-n-smith young-adult ya sci-fi fantasy