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The Ankulen Paperback – September 4, 2013
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The imagination world was cool. As a writer myself I enjoyed all that sort of thing about characters and worlds and so forth. A lot of the things in the imagination world were so cool -- the glowbeetles, the way the land moves around, the dream castles, etc. It was simultaneously original and the sort of cliche-on-purpose that's laughing at itself in a delightful way at the same time, and just great fun to read! I had a splendid time, and I loved how the world could have these little "plot holes" and the like, but it didn't matter; because it was made up by a kid, and it was just for fun. I just LOVED that and the whole setting!
I didn't like the stuff in the modern real world as much -- it felt like it didn't quite mix, especially the mom. The book became fairly heavy on the Christian allegorical aspect in the second half or so, which surprised me for some reason because it came out of the blue for me. Sometimes it didn't mesh real well for me and felt forced, which was annoying. But some if it was really good and enjoyable and illuminating. So... I'm mixed on that. Also the typos and such were super distracting for me.
The first half or so of the book, I really disliked Jen, the heroine (the book is in first-person, which may have contributed to that for me, since I'm not the biggest fan of that mode of writing). But I started to really like her in the second half! Which surprised me. But I really did. She was suddenly fun and a little humorous and... I liked her. I also loved her interactions with her characters--haha! The other characters in the book were fun; my favorite was Derek. He had some great dialog, and I liked seeing him grow. I guess he's one of my favorite kinds of characters. :)
Basically, if you want a rollicking, whimsical, rather humorous story, especially if you have some experience with writing or your own imagination, and a bit of an allegory to deepen the edges of the fun, this is the book for you.
My overall feeling... Sometimes you want to read a book that's just great fun. And just have a good time with a sort of silly tale that you don't need to worry too much about it making sense. Whimsical fun. That's what this book is.
The plot and characters of this book weren't quite what I was expecting from the summary. I thought Jen would be more eager to venture back into her imagination, and that the story would center as much around finding the Ankulen as beating the Polystoikhedron. (On a side note: I want to know where exactly that name came from- and also if Kendra can spell without looking it up.) I enjoyed how the story actually went, however, possibly more than I would've enjoyed what I'd expected. As a storyteller myself, I found Jen's mission- restore her imagination and stop the monster that's destroying it- quite captivating.
I also found Jen's imagination-world both interesting and amusing. It feels like what it's supposed to be: a world dreamed up by a creative seven-year-old which has since fallen into disrepair, and yet Kendra handles it in a way that allows me to take that world seriously.
There were one or two things about this book that bothered me. Certain situations seemed to be resolved too easily. Many characters also felt a bit shallow- they weren't one-dimensional, but they weren't fully fleshed out either. There's also a bit at the very end that I felt made the story's allegorical elements a bit too in-your-face. (Don't get me wrong; I like allegory. However, it is very easy to make allegory too blatant.)
In most stories, these elements would bring my rating down to three stars. However, the concept of the story is enough to keep it at four stars. Overall, The Ankulen an enjoyable, unusual story that fantasy writers will especially enjoy. It's certainly worth reading!
Best for Ages: 12 and up
I wasn’t feeling good one day and looked on my Kindle. I can always count on Ardnek to give me something easy to read and full of imagination. However, this is my favorite book of hers yet. Very light, very fun, and very different.
The whole setting of this book is just plain cool: a girl inside her imagination, which has lots of different aspects to it. It reminded me a lot of my childhood imagination, except I was never as organized as Jen. The world, so carefully crafted, was just plain fun.
Jen was such a believable character, and her struggle to reclaim her imagination felt real. I liked how different she was from some of the other Ardnek leading ladies. She wasn’t as annoying as I found the main girl in the Quest books.
All the other characters just sparkled and were full of color (wink). The old woman was one of my favorites, even though she wasn’t really in the story much.
Other than nearly being lulled to sleep while the story was in the dream castle, the story kept me turning pages. It was so much fun. However, I was taken completely surprised by the powerful message toward the end. I was blinking rapidly at the skill, because the message had been there all the time, yet it surprised me. It was very well done.
I highly recommend this to those who like mild fantasies, imaginary worlds, and just want a lighthearted read.
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