Monday, May 12, 2014

The Ankulen

Title: The Ankulen

Series: None

Year: 2013

Author: Kendra E. Ardnek

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Jen can't remember her imagination. She knows she had one once, though, and honestly, she'd like it back. It's been eight years. One day she finds a young boy who claims to be one of her imaginary friends and that her imaginary world is being eaten by a hydra-like monster called the Polystoikhedron. He helps her find the Ankulen, a special bracelet that had given the ability to bring her imagination to life and together they embark on a quest to find friendship, healing, and perhaps even some family. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Jenifer
~ Chris
~ Tisha
~ Derek
~ Megan

Review: A girl who loses her imagination? And then wrote a book about it? Sign me up!

When I first heard about this story on the author's blog, I knew it would be a story worth reading. And while The Ankulen had in it all the stuff that I was expecting, it also had a lot of the unexpected. Jen, the main character, doesn't remember her imagination, but she knows that something terrible happened to it. She's supposed to be a writer, and her mom won't let her in for lunch unless she writes so many words a day in her notebook. The problem is, with no imagination, Jen can't put down a story. So, she starts penning her own tale. It begins as a narrative about her life as she remembers it, but quickly morphs into an epic tale of adventure when two of her friends show up and claim they know how to help her get her memories back. And it has to do with a little, well-loved bracelet that Jen didn't even remember loving: The Ankulen.

Kendra keeps the story in a light tone, with plenty of danger and suspense to keep you up at least an hour past your bedtime. In truth, The Ankulen kept my interest because it was so unexpected. I had thought the whole story would be about Jen finding her imagination. Jen does find her imagination, but she does so in the middle of the book. At that point, I stopped myself and asked, "Now what's she going to do for the rest of the story?" I didn't have long to find out. Even though her memories were restored, Jen still had plenty of adventure left. I love the way she describes things, how she views her friends and family. Even how she talked about things in her own imagination, for as she couldn't remember them, I got to learn about as she re-learned about them. Even though most of her imagination was made up of a seven-year-old girl's fancies, I didn't have any trouble visualizing what Jen saw and experienced.

Also, I was very pleased to note that while there were mermaids as semi-main characters in the story, each mermaid/merman was properly dressed. Thank you very much, Kendra, for not following the mainstream image of underwater fish folk. That was most exciting to read about.

One thing I wasn't entirely fond of was the fact that Jen's journey almost seemed a little too easy. When she didn't know what to do, her friends always knew where to go. When she came up across a difficulty, she'd usually hopped over it by the end of the chapter. She did a lot, but it always seemed that everything fell quickly and neatly into place. After she got her memories and imagination back, she knew just what to do to fix everything, and it wasn't long until she did. While it does often seem a bit unrealistic to see an adventure play out that way, I had to keep remembering that Jen was in the world of her imagination, and in her imagination, whatever she wanted came about. Applying that to my own imagination, wouldn't I want everything to go my way while on an epic quest? Why shouldn't Jen's imagination be the same way?

Advisory: Some fantasy violence; the Polystoikhedron is a multi-headed creature that devours imaginations that Jen and her friends must battle. It is described as bearing the faces of the people whose imaginations had been devoured on serpentine necks and the obvious way to destroy it is to chop off its heads. Some minor characters have a light romance, but the author handles it sweetly.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy The Ankulen on Amazon!
It's currently free on Kindle!

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