Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guardians of the Akasha by Celia Stander

Guardians of the Akasha
Guardians of the Akasha by Celia Stander

Goodreads Summary

Eighteen-year old Keira Wilde has finished school and is determined to make her own plans for her future, thank you very much. She wants to be a photographer; not go to Oxford, like her parents want, or be a hero, like her aunt wants. But Keira’s plans go flying out of the window when she is attacked on the streets of London and she is forced to use her powers in self-defense.

Unfortunately, her actions attract the attention of a predator intent on using her...or destroying her. Preferring to be neither used nor destroyed, Keira takes charge of her destiny and enters the hidden world of the Guardians of the Akasha.

Fighting side by side with the battle-scarred Marco Santana, they race from London to Argentina and a castle in the forests of the Czech Republic to find the source of all knowledge and prevent the fabric of time from unraveling.

My Review

I read this book as a read & review. When I first agreed to the R&R, I wasn't sure if I was going to like the book. The plot seemed interesting enough, but something I couldn't quite put my finger on left me a bit skeptical. After reading it, I am happy that I gave it a chance and that I had proven myself wrong. 

"Akasha literally means ‘space’…Everything around us, from the smallest atom to the biggest planet is connected through the Akasha."

What is the Akasha? That is the major question throughout this novel. The term itself comes from known religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism (  The easiest explanation for it is the quote above. For the basis of the novel, it is not an alternate dimension, but rather an area between dimensions that connects them. Since it connects all dimensions and realities, any manipulation of the Akasha can alter time and dimensions as they are currently known. Hence the need for the Guardians for the Akasha, to guard the Akasha from those intent on misusing it for personal gain. The Guardians are people who are born with the special ability to manipulate space and energy. This ability tends to run in specific families, why some members possess these powers while others don’t is unclear. 

Keira finds out that not only is she one of these special people with these abilities—not the lone weirdo freak that she had believed herself to be all this time—but that her powers are great and that she has a specific destiny within the Guardians. Keira's powers and her destiny are so crucial that Daemon, who wishes to use the Book of Knowledge--which holds all the secrets and history of the Akasha--to manipulate the Akasha to alter time, will stop at nothing to use Keira. 

Keira is a very likable protagonist. Her overall strength is seen from the beginning of the book. She has a rebellious nature and a desire to follow her own path. As she learns more about the Guardians and her destiny, there is a sense of obvious confusion within her, yet she still has the ability to make up her own mind and make her own choices. This puts her and Marco, the commander of the Draaken (warriors who protect the Guardians) who has sworn to Keira’s Aunt Victoria to protect her, at odds with each other constantly.

One thing I liked about this book is the setting. Even though its a fantasy that it includes supernatural powers, magic, and fairy-tale-like locations, its all within real-life locations like London, Argentina, and the Czech Republic. Many fantasy novels (and even some dystopian, apocalyptic ones) include made-up places that can never be located on a map. While the exact location of the castle and the Santana estate probably cannot be specifically pointed to on a map, their countries of origin can. This added a level of realism that I enjoyed. 

One issue that I have to mimic other reviewers on is that there is a lacking in development. Many times we’re taken from one place or situation to another without much explanation as to how we got there. Keira definitely went through a transformation as she learned about the Akasha and her powers, but there really was no development there. One scene she’s a typical human high school graduate, with no real understanding about the Akasha and her powers and the next she seems to understand and know everything and has morphed into the powerful girl. There is very little description or explanation of how she got to this point. As Keira describes it, the whole training felt like only days as opposed to weeks. It could very well be explained by the factor that the dimension she was in time seems to have slowed to almost a standstill, but still more development there would've been helpful. 

Also, there is one instance in particular that seems very much unrealistic. Without giving too much away, basically Keira and the Guardians go from one country to another to intercept a plane that is about to take off. I understand that this is a fantasy novel and in a fantasy novel almost anything is possible, but there still needs to be just at least some realism. This scene in particular seemed way too convenient for my taste. 

Besides Keira, Marco, and the Draaken, little Amber was by far the bravest character in the novel. She is a nine-year-old daughter of the cook and the groundskeeper of the Castle of the Guardians. Don’t let her age  and smalls stature fool you; she has a lot of spunk and courage for a young girl. Even though she's sweet and a bit talkative, she's definitely got a fire within her with flames as red as her hair. I don’t want to give anything way, so I’ll just say that by the end Amber was as much a savior as Keira, Marco, and the Draaken.

There are battle scenes, with the Draaken battling Dameon's forces to protect the castle, the Akasha, and Keira, but they sometimes fall short a little in their length and description. The revelation and resolution in the end is a bit rushed and could use a little more development. The situation with the Book of Knowledge in particular needed more development  It can't be a simple as Keira not knowing or understanding the Book one moment and then instantly knowing everything the next. 

This book was very intriguing, creative and a fun read. The world of the Draaken, the Guardians, and the Akasha was very different than many of the other fantasy YA novels I have read. However, because of its uniqueness, a little more explanation and development would definitely have been helpful. It is not listed on Goodreads or Smashwords as part of a series, but the ending does leave room for a least a sequel. If Celia Stander does come out with a sequel to this book, I would definitely pick it up to see how the abrupt cliffhanger turns out. I definitely recommend this book to YA fantasy lovers. 

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