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Earthcore Book 1: A New Zealand Fantasy Adventure Kindle Edition
Superpowers from hot springs — who knew!
In a tourist hotspot in New Zealand, geysers have secrets, and so do the locals. Can one girl stop a superpowered conman?
Anira doesn't want to go along on the family trip to Rotorua, city of geysers. Not while she's fighting off a latent phobia of volcanoes.
But this place has ancient secrets beyond anything she could imagine. Untamed thermal forces hold a hidden power that transforms Anira. The spirits of the land have a job for her to do: stop a foreign developer who wants to concrete over the natural springs as he misuses the very same powers to take control.
Using abilities she has never known, soon Anira finds there are others like her — but they want her to back off. Can she convince them to work together and save the city?
Superpowers. Volcanoes. Legendary creatures. Read the compelling origin story of the Earthcore heroes.
If you like supernatural mysteries, real-life locations and satisfying endings, then you'll love this fast-paced series.
Buy Earthcore to take a trip to New Zealand right now.
"It's like a front-row seat on a tour with a personal guide - and extra magic!"
- ASIN : B0714Q4T9W
- Publisher : Splashdown Books (July 28, 2017)
- Publication date : July 28, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 3908 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 197 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,014,345 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Anira hadn’t wanted to go to Rotorua at all. She would rather have stayed in Auckland. But her mum had insisted, and once in town Anira soon finds others who have superpowers apparently bestowed by Rotorua’s sulphurous waters. Among them are a teenage boy with eyesight good enough to pick out details on the far lakeshore, a young mother who can make fire in her bare hands, and a retiree who can run across the surface of the lake. Anira brings them together, insisting they need to know why have been so blessed. Calling themselves the Earthcore, with Anira as their de facto leader and the blessings of a local Maori iwi (tribe), they step up to the challenge of thwarting the schemes of the mysterious Mr B, who seems to have a serious grudge against the entire town.
Unfortunately, Mr B is the weakest part of RotoVegas, the first book in the YA Earthcore series by New Zealand author Grace Bridges. He’s a cardboard villain, with no apparent motivations other than unreasoning hatred and standard evil-overlord megalomania. Moreover, his own superpowers don’t make a lot of sense. If the Earthcore team’s superpowers are gifts of the taniwha (spirits from Maori myth), then who bestowed a very powerful gift on this man they disapprove of?
I had another negative reaction to a minor plot point: when Anira decides to stay in Rotorua at the end of the week with someone she’s just met and her mother didn’t know, her mother doesn’t object. Would I have let my mid-teen daughter do that? Not a chance, especially when she appears to be in the throes of her first romance. Even if she were staying with someone we knew well and trusted, I’d leave with a fervent ‘Dear God, give her more sense than I had at that age.’
Aside from those problems, there are several things I like about RotoVegas:
• The Earthcore team with its members from all ages, not just oddball teens. The group includes several teens, but also the afore-mentioned mother with a nursing baby, the speedy retiree, and two adults working in the tourist industry. None of them, at either end of the spectrum, are dismissive of the others because of their ages.
• The respectful treatment of Maori culture and mythology. (Respectful as far as I, a newcomer to New Zealand, can tell, anyway.)
• A friendly relationship between a teenage girl and teenage boy that didn’t turn into an angsty hormonal-driven romance, despite their mothers’ ‘help’.
• The unusual nature of some of the superpowers, not all of them immediately or obviously useful.
• The sense of place evident in the descriptions of the town of Rotorua and the surrounding area. With its in-your-face geothermal activity—geysers, steam venting from random holes in the ground, sinkholes suddenly opening in someone’s yard—Rotorua is a place where the veil between the worlds seems very thin, and anything can happen.
But this place has far greater and ancient secrets than she could ever have imagined. For its springs hold a hidden power—one that transforms those gifted by the spirits of the land.
Now Anira finds herself gifted with abilities she has never known. And there are others like her—both good and evil…
RotoVegas is the first book in the Earthcore series, and was my first introduction to the “taniwha” folklore of New Zealand. Within Maori legend, this creature is a mystical being similar to a dragon (it also reminded me of the “thunderbird” of Native American culture). The local flavor of this legend adds character to the story’s mythology, and by extension, I learned a lot about New Zealand and Maori culture (the Maori language itself actually forms an essential plot element).The book contains many scenes with vivid descriptions of the local geography, flora, and fauna. New Zealand is a country I personally know very little about, but now I might want to visit it some day.
The book is quite readable, written in simple language that flows well and avoids choppiness. The story falls into the young adult genre, but I liked the fact that it breaks the standard YA trope of all the main characters being in the same age group—some of them are actually full-fledged adults with adult responsibilities. The book nevertheless maintains a very “comic book” feel throughout, and will definitely appeal to fans of Marvel or X-men style storylines. I actually think it would be interesting to see it adapted to graphic novel format—I had an impression of bright, vivid colors and imagery throughout the narrative.
The story is built upon two central mysteries that are revealed gradually: one is the source of the newfound abilities of the protagonist and her friends, the other being the identity of the antagonist. The use of two mysteries as opposed to one is both a strength and a weakness. Suspense and point-of-view is used to great effect, and it was fascinating to follow Anira’s mental journey as she discovers the things she is able to do as well as their link to a geothermal spring. On the other hand, the fact that the villain is concealed for so long hampers his impact upon the narrative. I can understand the reason for this, however. This book is the first installment in what looks to be a very extensive series, so I would expect a far greater amount of stage-setting than the sequels. I do also feel like there were a number of loose threads at the end, but I would attribute this to the same reason. The one other issue is that the pacing can feel a bit slow at times, but the author does well in introducing a variety of elements to hold the reader’s interest.
RotoVegas contains no profanity or sexual content, and I also appreciated its theme of moral choice regarding “gifts”. Do we use our abilities to help others or to benefit ourselves at others’ expense? All in all, I would recommend it as a fun, clean read to both adolescents and adults.
As for the story, it was fine. I liked the magic realism that intertwined with the story. The characters are all likeable and fun to share together as a group, called "Earthcore." The characters don't take each other too seriously, but bond well. There was some travel information interspersed throughout the story, and I would like to visit again.
Ultimately, the story wobbled along a bit from lack of focus. There's a lot of New Age stuff concerning the therapeutic powers of minerals and spring-fed water, which transforms into magic in this book, but there's not much of a coherent plot. Every chapter had its lulls, like the fun-living teenagers seek some information, come home, rest, and go out again. They track the bad guys, retreat, go home, and start again the next day. I'm glad there wasn't too much nail-biting tension, and that there was some fun and quirks, but it may have been a little too relaxed for me.
Still, a fun read for the young adult crowd.