Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, by Allan Richard Shickman


Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country (Zan-Gah #2)
Allan Richard Shickman
Paperback, 151 pages
Earthshaker Books
Rating: (Avg 3.5)
The prehistoric saga continues in Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, the sequel to the award winning Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure. In this story, Zan s troubled twin brother, Dael, having suffered greatly during his earlier captivity, receives a ruinous new shock when his wife suddenly dies. Disturbed and traumatized, all of his manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. His obsession is the destruction of the wasp men, his first captors, who dwell in the Beautiful Country. When he, Zan-Gah, and a band of adventurers trek to their bountiful home, they find that all of the wasp people have died in war or of disease. The Beautiful Country is empty for the taking, and Zan's people, the Ba-Coro, decide to migrate and resettle there. But the Noi, Dael's cruelest enemies and former tormentors, make the same migration from their desert home, and the possibility develops of contention and war over this rich and lovely new land.

As realistically written as its predecessor, Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country takes place years after Zan is reunited with his twin brother. Where Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure grips you with its page-turning action, this one attacks you with an emotional roller coaster that has you holding your breath until the end.

The main theme of this book for me was the trials of brotherhood, as Dael pushes his brother further and further away as he struggles to live his life normally outside of captivity. We're given flashbacks of what Dael was like before he was imprisoned, and those scenes only made my heart ache more for Zan-Gah, as he's gone so much to get THAT brother back. Dael is definitely a darker character, but he has gone through a lot. The only thing that was keeping him sane has been lost to him as well, which makes the struggle that much harder. Just like the brothers, all of the characters in the story are beautifully written and all have a purpose in the book.

I really don't know what else to say. This was as realistically and well-written as the first, and just as enjoyable. It's a must-read for middle graders and some YA readers as well. Full of action and emotion, it will enthrall even the most reluctant of readers.

View my review of Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure here.

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