Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: October 2019
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Action, Mythology
This is a solid story. With solid, memorable characters, and an intriguing concept. The writing, also, is solid. The fact that this is a debut is astounding. I completely understand why Rick Riordan picked it for publishing. I would have done the same thing. This story deserves to be out there, because it is not more of the same. The diversity and unusualness of the types of characters/creatures made it exciting to my eyes, from the beginning.
There is even one character that I actively thought reminded me of Kevin Hart. Who doesn’t want to listen to Kevin for the length of a book? Hell yes. It’s a cute and funny character. Eddie, the main protagonist, is interesting as well and, thankfully, he is grounding the reader. He doesn’t know what is happening, just like us, so we learn at the same time as he is, basically.
There is one thing though that I thought could have been done so much better: the presentation of the world-building and the many creatures inside of it. Even now, I find it so hard to explain to you what the world-building even looks like. This is one book/series that could have benefited from illustrations oh so much. Some stories don’t need them, and I definitely am not claiming all middle grade books require pictures, but in this case they would have helped us familiarize ourselves with the fantasy aspects much faster and easier.
Oh, wait. Two things actually. The length of this book could have been reduced, I believe. 482 pages (based on my advance copy) is a little much, I think, for a first book that is supposed to introduce without info-dumping. But this is my personal taste surfacing. I still really enjoyed reading this and will keep an eye out for the sequel.
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