Saturday, August 7, 2021

Review: Innate: A Chance Dawson Story by Eric Carter

Today's review heads in the dystopian direction...but not really. The main character suffers from epileptic seizures and needs to save his brother from their own government. So, this one is original. I decided to give it a read, and....well...

Here's what I thought.

A Chance Dawson Story
by Eric Carter
Middle Grade Fantasy
268 pages

The monotonous final day of Chance’s 6th grade year erupts when soldiers storm his school. Before anybody can make sense of what’s going on, Chance finds his brother boarding a bus and leaving with the very troops that turned his school to chaos. The authorities claim everything is OK, and families shouldn't worry. But Chance isn’t so sure. He obviously won’t get the peaceful summer he had hoped for; the one he needed to help him get...better. While Chance wrestles with a new reality, a man appears; a man only Chance can see. He suggests Chance doesn’t need to get better. The man claims that Chance’s disability isn’t a weakness at all. In fact, it’s a power necessary to rescue his brother, and potentially the entire world. Will Chance shy away from the man’s ludicrous challenge, or will he take a leap of faith into an unknown world and explore the depths of himself in doing so?



This one reminded me a bit of the atmosphere found in A Wrinkle in Time, but with a very different twist and direction.

Chance suffers from epileptic seizures, which are often triggered by stress. When the army marches into his school and takes his older brother and his classmates off for to serve the country, that's definitely stress. While Chance's parents try to hide their fears as it becomes clearer and clearer that he might never see his brother again, Chance meets an invisible man, who claims to be from another realm. He also claims Chance's seizures are in fact a rare power to move between realms if used properly. Chance agrees to train with this man in the Unseen and learn to use his abilities in hopes of saving not only his brother, but his family and friends.

This story starts off with tension pure as sixth grade Chance has his brother ripped away from his right before his eyes. His need to mentally deal with the situation but problems with his seizures creates a sympathetic situation, which is hard not to get hooked by. Chance is a nice guy, who deals with life as best he can. His concern for his family is inspiring as is his ability to read situations pretty well. I appreciated that he didn't trust the stranger from the Unseen right away but allowed this to develop in a more natural and believable way.

The writing is very well done and keeps the pace smooth. The scene descriptions are detailed enough to allow the reader to see the world around them without being bogged down. Emotions aren't forgotten and make the characters more likable and understandable. I did find some of Chance's thoughts and dialogue a little older at times, and younger at others. Also, there isn't quite as much tension, in general, as there could be in some scene, but still, I enjoyed reading it and wanted to see what happened until the very end.

I did enjoy the dance between realms and found that this was smoothly done, never feeling cliche. I was a bit confused about several aspects of the Unseen, and this confusion stayed until the end. But it's a nice read with lots of originality and a main character to like. It's definitely worth grabbing up and taking a peek at.

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