Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Review: The Zan-Gah novels by Allan Richard Shickman

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure
Zan-Gah and the Beautiful CountryTitle: Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure and Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country

Author: Allan Richard Shickman

Pages: 148 and 151

Source: Publisher

Rating: 8/10 for both

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge

First Sentence: "From a long distance a traveler, or some wild thing, might see within the deep and absolute blackness of night an intense orange light which looked from afar like a glowing coal."

Summary (That I made up):
Zan-Gah is a two-book series following Zan, a young man living in a prehistoric civilization. When he proves himself a brave warrior, Zan-Gah (Named in part for the rock where his victory took place) sets off to find his long-lost twin.

He must learn to rely on himself and to develop a head for diplomacy that carries him through many tough situations.

My Two Cents:

I wasn't sure what to expect from these books. The premise sounded interesting, but the covers had me a little skeptical.

Shickman does a great job creating (What I would guess is) a fairly true portrayal of prehistoric life. The work is very clearly divided by gender. Survival is an everyday battle. Life is tough. But these books are not all war-making and hunting. Shickman creates some realistic human interactions and family dynamics, which make the books a fun read.

The books are labeled YA/Teen, and I would recommend them to anyone between 10 and 12 years old. Shickman creates a story that would be interesting and engaging to this age group without talking down to them. There are some more advanced words in the Zan-Gah novels. The plot is fairly uncomplicated and action-packed, which would make it great for reluctant readers.

I thought Zan-Gah was a great role model of a character for kids. He begins the series at a non-descript but "young" age, I'm guessing around 12. He shows bravery and leadership skills even at this young age. He is kind to everyone, and he treats his elders with respect. Over the course of the novels, he ages probably two to three years (As far as I could guess), so he's a young teenager by the end. I think preteens would really be able to identify with him.

One thing I would have liked to see a little bit more in Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure was some plot complication. It was a relatively straightforward record of Zan's journey to find his brother (Although there was some tribal rivalry thrown in), but I would have liked to see an extra side story or something thrown in for good measure. There are several extra side stories and complications in Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, and I think it was that extra depth to the story that pushed it above the first novel in my estimation.


Allan Richard Shickman said...

I was thrilled to read your review of my Zan-Gah books. I tried to write books that would be exciting and riveting—and meaningful too. Because I do not "dumb down," as you rightly noticed, the books appeal to most age groups. I would not have limited readership to ages 10-12. Zan himself is 13 at the start of the series, about 17 and married by the end of the first book.

Anyway, I am grateful for your interesting review, and can only say KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!


Allan R. Shickman said...

WOW! All of a sudden the Zan-Gah orders have started pouring in. I don't know what happened. It must be all of those blog reviews I have been getting lately. Not a single order for a while, and suddenly I am selling Zan-Gah by the case! I may even have to go to press again (3rd printing!). My thanks to you, to my many reviewers, and to all of my new readers. People are paying attention.

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