When Jonathan wakes up beside a lake bruised and bleeding, he has no idea how he got there or where “there” really is. He must try to remember how he ended up in this place and why.
When he meets Grace and a group of people that seem to want to help him, he is thrown in to a world that he doesn’t know. Haunted by visions and voices in his head, Jonathan soon realises that this world isn’t as safe as he’d hoped.
Taken from his life and asked to save a land he knows nothing about, from a menacing hooded figure, Jonathan must learn quickly to survive. As he struggles to stay alive long enough to get home he is faced with a deadly choice, Join It or Die. And when it becomes clear that so many would do anything to kill him he must stay close to those who would kill for him.
To stay alive and get home he must face the one thing he never wanted to, the figure in black. And when the hood comes down Jonathan is faced with a revelation that could break him and destroy everything he has fought for.
Brunswick was an interesting read. I enjoyed the whole idea of a world created through the power of one boy’s imagination, and particularly liked how well-developed and thought out the world was. The entire book focuses on the power of imagination, good triumphing over evil, and doing what you know is right, even when you don’t want to, which are all themes that were dealt with very well. And I especially loved the creatures that populate this world; Ann Haines did a first-rate job when choosing who would live in this world, and the special abilities they all had to make them unique. I really liked the character of Gideon, and his magical abilities. I would have loved to see more from him, to know exactly what the limits to his abilities were, but obviously, this is Jonathan’s story and not Gideon’s, so I completely understand why it wasn’t something that was really discussed.
I also found myself really interested in Dashana. To me, she was the most interesting character of the book. She is forced to do the Destroyer (or It)’s bidding, but knows there’s something going on that she’s unclear about. She is trying to sort out what to do, while fully knowing that going against him could lead to her death. Her chapters were some of my favorites in the book, because I really liked watching her conflicting emotions and feelings, particularly when she wasn’t even sure why she was feeling uncertain.
My one complaint is that there were a lot of errors in the book, not only with punctuation (particularly in the dialogue), but also in terms of the way the book is written. There are a lot of run-on sentences, and I found it really distracting in the beginning. The story itself was interesting enough to keep me reading, and by the middle of the book I was more easily overlooking the fact that there weren’t proper sentence breaks. But it’s definitely something that affected my reading experience, and accounts for some of my rating. I also felt like Jonathan was much younger than his supposed age (15), and I had a hard time believing that everyone in Brunswick (aside from It) was really so perfect and nice; that seemed a bit far-fetched to me, even in a fantasy world.
However, I did like to see that Jonathan was a boy comfortable with physical displays of affection with his family (and that his family is entirely intact). It’s not something we normally see in YA, so that was rather refreshing. (His conversation at the end of the book with his teacher made me raise an eyebrow, however, because as someone who works in the education field, it just seemed entirely too unrealistic — not the conversation itself, but her coming to his home, and the kiss she bestows on his forehead. Trust me, NO teacher is actually going to do this, small town or no!) I also liked his display of anger over being brought to Brunswick in the first place, as I felt it was spot-on for a boy of his age.
All in all, Brunswick is a tale of adventure, doing the right thing, and trying to save the world. The world itself is richly imaginative with fantastical creatures and wonderful details. I definitely enjoyed it.
A copy of this book was provided to me through the YANR Blog Tours.
About Ann Haines:
Ann Haines is a debut writer from the South East of England. She is a married mother of two, a horror movie buff, Tweeter, Blogger and a self-confessed geek … and GLEEK (much to her son’s annoyance). She has been writing from an early age and even took to illustrations as she went through her teenage years. Although she still sketches as a hobby she now prefers to focus on her writing. At nineteen she became a mother and had to put her writing on hold for a more lucrative job to support her and her son, as it was just the two of them. She never gave up the idea of becoming a writer though and when her son was four he gave her the idea for what is now her first book ‘Brunswick’.
After two and half years of writing her book and researching the self-publishing industry, Ann’s book ‘Brunswick’ was published on Amazon. She became part of the Indie Publishing community that she loves and is widely involved in. Over the years she has had many ideas for her work and so we can expect to see much more of this new Indie Author.
You can connect with Ann at the following links: