By Allan Richard Shickman
This book is being used for my “Take Another Chance Challenge”, for Challenge 6: Genre Switch-up. This book also has a sequel: Zan Gah and the Beautiful Country.
Zan Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure is just that, a prehistoric adventure. Starting off with a suspenseful and action-packed lion hunt, the book continues to follow Zan as he tries to find and rescue his twin brother Dael, who has gone missing. But the search is not as easy as it would seem, as Zan runs into rival tribes, the wasp men, and the Noi on his adventure. Woven spectacularly into the novel by author Allan Shickman is strong descriptions of a prehistoric setting which richly defines a unique and original premise.
My Expectations: honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. This book was really out of my comfort zones and away from the genres I read.. I have never read a prehistoric novel before!
Delivery: pretty solid, I wasn’t blown away but I wasn’t disappointed either.
Put-down-ability: It took me a few days to finish it, so maybe a 6/10
So going into this book, I really expected nothing. It was my first go at a prehistoric novel, and I was glad it started off with a bang or else my attention would have wavered. The lion hunt really set up the whole premise, with really cool details and introducing an unique setting. I like the way the hunt was described, with the tribes and the traps.
The plot itself was well done, I enjoyed reading about Zan’s adventure and “quest” to find his twin brother. I thought the obstacles he had to get through in order to find Dael were well written and unique. At the beginning, I was worried I would get all the names mixed up (like I do for fantasy novels) but the author made it easy to remember them.
I’m not sure how I felt about the ending, it was a bit too nicely wrapped up, but I was happy with what happened. My favourite parts of the book would be the dramatic action scenes which I thought the author wrote wonderfully.
However, somewhere along the novel, I felt the pacing began to waver. One of the things that bothered me was that after such a big build-up to significant events, it was like “One year passed..” which left me kind of disoriented if you can say that. I thought that while some scenes were described in vivid detail, other ones were just pushed aside.
The characters themselves could probably have been developed better, but I don’t really have anything bad to say about them. I did feel the interactions between characters felt forced. The relationships between the characters I couldn’t really identify with (probably because it was prehistoric…) especially between Zan and Lissa-Na. I thought his feelings were bipolar at times. Zan himself is strong and determined, and generally a likeable character. You can’t help but cheer for him as you read about his struggles and triumphs. I do wish Dael was a bit more fleshed out though.
Lastly, I thought the writing was decent. It provided an amazing insight to prehistoric times, and the novel was rich in details—sometimes a bit too rich. Things felt a bit over-described at times, but some other times it was just perfect. It was a bit of a hit-and-miss for me, some times I felt engaged, and sometimes I didn’t.
I just wanted to say that this is a great book if you’re looking for something out of your usual genres. C’mon, raise your hand if you’ve ever read a prehistoric novel!
7/10- because I thought it had a good action, plot, and characters. I wish the writing was a bit more engaging. The general plotline will keep you (hopefully) hooked because it is usually fast paced and filled with very unique events.
I would recommend this to people looking for a fun, fast read in a very unique genre! And it is probably more appealing to tween and teen boys, but warning: there are some violent scenes/bloodshed if you’re feeling queasy.
To find out more about the novel and to read an excerpt of the book, visit the Zan Gah website!
And many thanks to Earthshaker Books for the review copy.