Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review for Opening the Ball by Nathaniel Simpson

    I was given the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a review and I want to first say thank you to the author for allowing me to do so.

    The concept of the book is amazing!  Time travel to the Civil War as an operative for a secret organization?  So amazing!  I am a huge history nut and I love the Civil War so I was very excited to read this book.  That being said, while there were things that I loved about the book there were also a few things that could have been improved on.

    The book starts out very strong, jumping right in to the story of Jonathon, the main character, and grabbing your attention immediately.  Within a short amount of time Jonathon  finds himself at a new school  and in the middle of intensive tryouts to be allowed to stay in the school.   Just when the training gets going it skips ahead four year to graduation.  I felt like a huge chunk of the story was just deleted from the book.  How did the kid he hate become his friend?  I think there was one quick blurb that said why he was friends with Jonathon but I felt it really did not explain thing satisfactorily.  Also, when Jonathon first arrives at the school there is only one student that speaks to him.  The way that this character is introduced makes it seem that he will be an important part of the book but then he is never mentioned again.   The story also got a bit confusing at the end with all of the changes in time that were happening but this is pretty normal when the whole issue of time travel and changing the past come in to play.  While there were some issues with the book let me assure you there were also great things too.

    In addition to the wonderful concept of the book there were several other things that make this book a great read.  The gadgets that the author comes up with for the characters to  take back in time with them are great.  He really put a lot of thought in to just what things they would need to complete their mission and how the gadgets could be kept from being discovered by anyone in the past.  The 'bad guy' of the book was also great.  The author did an amazing job of making him so annoying and mean to the point of really getting the reader to want his down fall.  The friendship of Jonathon and the other two boys is incredible and well developed.  This lends greatly to the story once the three of them are back in the Civil War.  They really come through for each other and it is this friendship that  changes the course of the story. 

     Overall the book was a great read and the ending leaves you anxiously waiting for a sequel so that you can find out what happens to Jonathon.  It has enough action throughout the book to keep you engrossed in the story from beginning to end.  I would recommend this book to anyone that likes YA books and I think that younger preteen/teen boys would really enjoy it.  

Parent advisory:  There was very mild language.  There were also some battle scenes that included injuries.  One particularly disturbing scene when the author describes the happenings in the Civil War medical tent and the removal of limbs with a saw.  While it very accurately describes what really happened to the injured during war at that time it could be a bit intense for younger kids.  

You can learn more about the book and read other reviews here.

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