Saturday, January 16, 2016

Book Review: The Spectraland Saga 2: The Mystery of the Moonfire by Brian Tashima

Back in September 2012, I reviewed book one of the Spectraland Saga, The Secret of the Songshell and now, after about 3 years, the sequel is finally out and I'm pleased to bring you a review of it. 

The Spectraland Saga is a young adult series by Brian Tashima The books are probably aimed at the better readers in the young adult market as they're about 300 pages each. The genre is fantasy and the reason why they're being reviewed here is because they contain a main character with Asperger's syndrome (in fact, it's quite likely that they contain two main characters with Asperger's syndrome). 

The Mystery of the Moonfire starts about six months after the end of “Songshell” and it more or less relies on a good knowledge of Spectraland. If it's been a while since you read the first book, you might want to re-read it before venturing further.  If you haven't read the first book at all, I think it's a pre-requisite. 

The second book in the saga feels longer and more action-packed than the first with the wave bows being out of action for a large part of the story, reducing the reliance upon magical solutions. In my opinon, this grounds the story and makes it a whole lot better.

Joel and Felicity spend a lot of time with the natives but there are also a lot of quiet moments where they rely more upon each other. This was a big change from the first book and personally,I thought these moments were the highlights of the book.

The characters of Joel and Felicity have Asperger's syndrome. Joel is clearly diagnosed and a lot of his self-talk reflects this, there's real examples of concentration techniques, anxiety-breaking distractions and most of all, the questioning of social behaviours and body language.

Felicity’s Asperger’s seems to be undiagnosed. It's never stated in the book and it may be a figment of my imagination but I've noticed that a few other readers have made the same connection. It's pretty likely that she has Asperger's.  Felicity traits are more typical of females with Asperger's which makes it less detectable and usually less limiting but it nevertheless comes into play at opportune (and sometimes inopportune) moments.

I love what Brian is doing with these books, spinning a fantasy with main characters that people on the autism spectrum can relate to.

In terms of fantasy, the books lie somewhere between “the Enchanted Wood” and “Harry Potter” and seem well suited to a young to mid teen audience depending upon their reading levels.

The Spectraland saga 2: Mystery of the Moonfire by Brian Tashima is available from Amazon and Goodreads. You can also follow Brian's activities on his blog.

I'd recommend this book to lovers of Fantasy in general but particularly to kids on the Autism spectrum.

Honestly clause; I was provided with a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes.