Sharon Sant’s urban fantasy debut, Sky Song introduced us to the prospect of life elsewhere in the universe, albeit not in a very ‘alien’ way. Jacob always had an inkling that he was somehow different, maybe through his unique trademark of colour changing eyes that reflect his moods, but it isn’t until he learns of his true identity that things really start to get interesting for him. Jacob is the future ‘Watcher’ for a race of people on Astrae, a sort of god who must watch out for them, keeping everything in balance with the natural order. With the evil Makesh lurking in the shadows however, things aren’t easy for Jacob, especially as Makesh wants him dead.
The Young Moon returns us to the life of Jacob two years after the end of the previous book. Jacob has returned to Earth after spending time with the Astraens, learning his responsibilities and coming to terms with what’s expected of him in his role of ‘Watcher’. Jacob misses his family and friends; Earth never far from his heart. He is back to discover the whereabouts of his Twin, someone who can take the responsibility of Watcher from him, so he can return to his old life. But with no clues to her whereabouts, Jacob must lean of his friends to help him in his endeavor.
The Young Moon is very much the second book is a series; it feels like a middle book. That’s not a bad thing – a story needs a beginning, a middle and an end to be complete, and this book helps move on the story, drumming up the tension ready for the third instalment. It’s a very personal story for Jacob and one of the things I loved the most is his inner thoughts, his personal quandaries of what is the right thing to do: fulfill his destiny as Watcher, or return home to people he loves? Sant does an extremely grand job at creating the moral dilemma for Jacob and you really do feel for him. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.
Perhaps the most exceptional part of this story however, is the non-fantasy parts. Jacob’s reliance of both Ellen and Luca tests the strength of their friendship. Did he really think he could just disappear for two years without any contact and expect everything to be OK? What worked really well for Sky Song was the trio’s relationship and the structural test in this book is brilliant, and true to life too. It’s realistic and it shows just how successful the author is at showing and reading behavior.
The revelation of Jacob’s father’s illness comes as a shock to both him as well as us. As we know, Jacob has the powers to change things, cure his father as it were, but we also know how that turned out when Jacob interfered with the natural order of things last time round! Not only does Jacob have a short time frame to search for his twin, he also has the moral dilemma of does he, does he not cure his father? What’s the point of having these wonderful powers if he can’t help the ones he loves? But selfish desire doesn’t always have a happy outcome. The ending chapters of this book are extremely powerful, full of raw emotion and honest writing. Jacob’s reserve as well as his maturity is tested to the fullest.
We get to see more of Luca on this trip, as both young men travel to America in search for Jacob’s twin. Luca really grew on me with this book. His playful personality and love of food made me chuckle. I thought despite what happened in the last book, Luca’s maturity and thoughtfulness for Jacob’s well being was commendable. Despite the two year gap, Luca is ready to be faithful and loyal once again without a second thought. If only all friends could be like Luca. Ellen on the other hand is not so forgiving. She is toying with her own emotions towards Jacob, but once again, just like in Sky Song, I really like Ellen’s character. She hasn’t grown bitter during Jacob’s departure, but she certainly has felt the time pass. And who can blame her? She has her own worries, what with her two brothers who need her care, as well as the disruptive lifestyle her alcoholic mother throws her way.
The Young Moon is a powerful book, one that throws many themes at you. Some personal, some ethical, and of course some fantastical. This is a fantasy novel after all! But I found the fleeting moments that Makesh features weren’t enough. I wanted more. I would have liked to see more of Jacob’s training on Astrae. The centrepiece for this book is Jacob’s search for his twin sister, but I found myself enjoying the other things going on more. That’s not to say I wasn’t intrigued by the cryptic prophecy of one half of the young moon descending into darkness. Alex, Jacob’s sister, hasn’t had an easy life, but with Jacob’s sudden appearance, it doesn’t look like things are going to get any better for her.
Sharon Sant’s sequel lives up to expectation left by its predecessor. It tantalisingly questions your resolve: what would you do if you were in Jacob’s shoes? The trio of Jacob, Luca and Ellen are tested in terms of friendship and loyalty, and of course love is thrown in to boot! The author manages to weave so many story arcs into its pages; the discovery of Jacob’s father’s illness, in my opinion, the most brilliant aspect of this book. The Young Moon tends to focus more on the intangible aspects such as relationships, ethics and revelations more than the actual ‘fantasy’, but Jacob’s personal predicaments are another highlight. If you loved Sky Song, then you’ll definitely fall in love with these characters all over again here.
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