Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire

Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire is the captivating second installment of the Miller Brothers' (Allan and Christopher) Codebearers series. Much more compelling and better-crafted than the first book, I was sorry to get to the end of Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire. This second book does, indeed, resolve many of the issues I didn't like in the first book. Most importantly, Hunter's friend Hope is not abandoned. Although he killed her in the first book, Hunter is given a chance to redeem his mistake, and we learn of the Author's greater purpose for Hope.

The book begins in our world (or one much like it) just three months after Hunter has returned from the alternate world of Solandria. Hunter and another Codebearer, Rob, and their friend Trista are called back to Solandria to help Captain Petrov and the remaining Codebearers who have been scattered and are hiding from the Shadow. The Codebearers are trying to remain true to the Author, even though his son, Aviad, was killed and disappeared, at the same time Hunter returned home. When Hunter and his friends arrive in Solandria, it is on an icy Shard (island) they have never visited before. They learn they have been away for three years, and soon Captain Petrov gives them a task. They must take a mysterious Flame and find seven faithful members of the Resistance (those loyal to the Author), in order to fulfill another prophecy.

Although Rob is also a Codebearer, he is clumsy, afraid of heights, and lacks self-confidence. He and Hunter rub each other the wrong way, despite their common allegiance to the Author. Trista is new to the ideas of the Resistance, but she has an open heart and is always willing to learn. Hunter has gained maturity since the first book, but still is prone to making quick decisions and following his feelings rather than the truth. The three friends are joined by Stone-Eyed Sterling (Stoney), a man with a checkered past but a good heart, and Boojum, an eccentric, wide-eyed ball of fur who proves to be cuddly and irresistible, but always hungry and mischievous.

Their adventures lead them from a frozen wasteland to a tropical paradise, and from a prison camp to a dragon's lair. In each setting, Hunter, Rob and Trista must defeat various enemies, including Xaul, a warrior bent on revenge and the possession of the Flame. They can only accomplish the Author's goals when they learn to trust in the Author's perfect will. They realize they are truly "never alone," and they see how the Author can use all things, good or bad, to teach and guide His people.

What I Like: I love the message all Codebearers learn in training, "We are never alone." Codebearers repeat "Never Alone!" as a mantra and an encouragement to each other. I even found myself thinking of the phrase during daily life and encouraging others with it. God never leaves us or forsakes us, and Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire makes the most of its opportunities to remind us of this fact.

I also love how seamlessly the plot is woven together. I never stopped being surprised by meeting old "friends" from the first book and seeing how they tied into the story. I would recommend reading both books together.

The creature, Boojum, who reminds me of an intelligent mix between a monkey and a cat, provides a powerful warning things are not what they seem. The school counselor also reminds us of this. Often things which seem interesting or enticing, or at the least innocuous, are actually dangerous. This message is skillfully delivered by the Miller Brothers, and is important for middle-schoolers to learn.

I was extremely happy to see Hope was not forgotten. She was my favorite character in Book One, and I was pleased with how the Miller Brothers chose to continue her story in Book Two.

This book is much less scary, but no less action-packed or suspenseful, than the first book.

What I Dislike: Cliffhanger endings and having to wait until Fall, 2010 to read the next book!

Overall Rating: Excellent!

Age Appeal: 9-12, but I would say high school as well.

Publisher Info: Warner Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-59317-357-9; Paperback, $13.99

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $10.99

OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $10.07.

Special Info: Check out our review of Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow here.
Readers can learn more about the books at the interactive website, www.CODEBEARERS.com.

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