Oooh, guess who’s back to bring you her first post in a long time!
Today is my stop on TheWriteReads blog tour for The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by K.N. Smith and I’ll be sharing my thoughts and a review of the book!
Title: The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses
Author: K.N. Smith
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Thriller
Length: 292 Pages
Publishing: 29th September 2015
Welcome or unwelcome. Fate has arrived.
“A captivating and poetic tale of mystery, fantasy, and reality tied together by action!” 5-stars, Lars Jackson, Amazon Customer
A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become super-gifts that forever change the world. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, can the boys defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late? Get prepared for the twisting and grinding of this award-winning, action-adventure story — an edge-of-your-seat narrative for young and mature readers alike.
Disclaimer: A physical copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. A huge thank you to TheWriteReads and the author for this copy! All opinions are my own.
The story begins with a pretty good hook. Nothing’s more gripping and grabs your attention like two teenagers happening across a murder happening right in front of them. It almost seems like the act comes from nowhere and many years later, the very villain reappears to wreck havoc; destruction ensues and heroes are needed to stop him. The original team failed, but can these boys successed in what the original gang could not do?
The writing is an odd mix; It was the only thing I really couldn’t get over. It’s very poetic and flowery on the edge of purple, but only sometimes. The main characters of this book are teenagers, but there are times that it felt like they were a bit younger, like middle school superheroes, the kind that are 10 and mom waves you off to take on the world (*squints in Pokemon*). So it was a strange mix between YA-aged characters with the occasional middle-grade feel but with literary proses that felt like what I’d read in English class in college. There ARE times when it’s fantastic though. There were a few moments where nothing but purple could be used to describe a scene, lest you do it and the emotions injustice. I’ve seen some people describe the prose as lyrical and I can’t agree more. I swear I shed at least a few tears myself.
Like large almonds, captivating in their shape and color, Jordan and Mason’s eyes beautifully expressed their mixed heritage, showcasing a mash of brown, green, and blue. Reminiscent of a seascape, their dark eyelids and thick eyebrows perfectly framed their bluehazel features.
The parts that were really hard to read were the awkward pacing and descriptions. Sometimes things are overly descriptive and sometimes you lose chunks of time because of the utter lack of descriptions. Things that don’t need any more description have it in abundance. Things that do need more text don’t have it. The writing can be kind of tell-y vs showy.
It is a fast read though. The writing, despite all the flowers, is actually very easy to read. I’ve never had a book so “lyrical” and still so easy to digest. Gone are the days where I reread the same page 10 times because one paragraph lost me completely. Turns out, it really is possible to have fancy sentences that are still readable by my very slow-to-digest brain. I can’t tell you how refreshing that is. Combined with relatively short chapters, this was one of the easier-to-read books I’ve gone through all year! I practically inhaled it and it’s very easy to read in a single sitting.
Magic and worldbuilding-wise, working around a plot related to the heightened five senses was a neat concept. I know super vision, super hearing, and maybe super smelling abilities are part of the widely used superpowers out there, but super taste and super touch are new and creative. The five senses are important and strong when together and that was a major theme in the book; being together. Alone, the boys were weak. What good is super-smelling abilities without the others backing you up? But when the boys work together, that very power can help the group track the villain down and the others can still back him up in terms of manpower and senses. Further in the story, this sense of sticking together becomes even more important.
The characters are interesting. We have a group of teenage boys all with interesting families. There’s a character where his mother had passed after an accident, another whose parents are together, and another who is being looked after by his very hard working older sister. All of their families are very supportive of the boys and are constantly doing their best to look after the boys. In turn, the boys do their best not to stress them out, even if this means hiding their powers and abilities (and the fact that they’re kids trying to save the world; but also let’s face it, tell your pops you have superpowers and see if he believes you).
As for the boys themselves, they’re pretty fleshed-out characters. The five boys claim a sense each and it was interesting getting to see how each of them adjusts to their powers, how they use them to both fight and support each other. They have individual lives outside of kicking butt, they have their own problems at home or with girlfriends, and all of them come from different circumstances. Despite the differences, they still do their best to mold their newfound powers to be inclusive of the others in the group and come to the aid when it’s needed.
Overall, this was a good book that I would recommend to YA readers. The writing is flowery and lyrical, is heavy on metaphors sometimes and quite poetic, but it’s also very easy to read, easy to digest, and with shortish chapters, I was able to fly through this book. The pacing and occasional awkward time skips made things feel a little off when reading, but that’s my only gripe with the book. The cast of characters are some pretty good and decent kids with their families just as good of people. All in all, a good book with a neat concept.
About the Author
K.N. Smith is an award-winning author. She is a passionate advocate of arts and literacy programs throughout the world. Her lyrical flair sweeps across pages that twist and grind through action-adventure and urban fantasy in edge-of-your-seat narratives. K.N. has over twenty-five years’ experience in communications and creative design as an award-winning consultant. Reading is still her foremost hobby. She is also the founder of Mental Health California™, and creator and director of Brother Be Well, her signature nonprofit community initiative. Discovery of the Five Senses was awarded “Best of” in the category “Outstanding Young Adult Novel” at the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards at the 10th Annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair. The event, voted one of LA’s best annual book festivals, attracts over 200 authors, poets, spoken word artists, storytellers, performers, and literary/ educational exhibitor participants, and boasts an audience of over 5,000. She is also a Readers’ Favorite “Gold Medal” honoree for “Young Adult – Mystery”.