About the Author: Kaleb Nation
On the third night of the third month in 2003, KALEB NATION, age 14, suddenly imagined a boy and a banker on a roof, waiting for a burglar to come. From that original idea was born the story of Bran Hambric. The first novel (BRAN HAMBRIC: THE FARFIELD CURSE) would take most of Kaleb’s teenage years to write.
Aside from writing, Kaleb hosted his first radio show in Texas at age 13, later launching his own program in 2006 called The Top 5. Kaleb’s show grew to be broadcast on AM, FM, Internet and satellite radio stations across the globe, before he left radio to focus on writing.
In 2008, Kaleb launched a blog at TwilightGuy.com, giving chapter-by-chapter insight, from a guy and writer’s perspective, on reading the Twilight Saga, a series of popular novels. The website went on to receive over 5 million hits, and was featured in BusinessWeek and Entertainment Weekly magazines, as well as on MTV, ReelzChannel and other TV outlets. Kaleb also began posting regular videos on his Youtube channel, with a combined total of over 8 million plays.
In his free time, Kaleb enjoys creating music and blogging. A homeschool graduate and a former black belt in taekwondo, he currently lives in California and turned 20 in 2008.
Bran Hambric was found locked in a bank vault at six years old, with no memory of his past. For years, he has lived with one of the bankers, wondering why he was left behind — until one night, when he is fourteen, he is suddenly confronted by a maddened creature, speaking of Bran’s true past and trying to kidnap him.
Bran finds that he is at the center of a plot which started years before he was even born: the plot of a deadly curse his mother created…and one that her former masters are hunting for him to complete.
Haunted by the spirit of his mother’s master and living in a city where magic is illegal, Bran must undo the crimes of his past…before it is too late.
I’ve had a long history with Kaleb Nation’s blog where he’s accounted his experience with reading “Twilight,” as a male. From that, I’ve always seen that he has the skills for writing and has the ability to greatly entertain his readers with his unique sense of humor. With that, I really wanted to love this book and very much tried to find some pro’s. But being a scrupulous reader definitely causes one to sight the flaws more so than the pro’s within any piece of writing. And with this one, there were some very noticeable flaws that greatly detracted from my enjoyment of the story. I appreciate the effort that Kaleb Nation put within this story and understand the ardor of writing. Hopefully I’ll be able to point out some of the positive elements of the story to not overwhelm the readers of this with a listing of all the negatives.
First off, the story begins with Embry Hambric futilely trying to run from a pair of men who seem to be chasing her for some unknown reason. This beginning initially brought to my attention the dryness of the writing. Everything seemed more like an instructional guide to inform readers of essential information for understanding the story. Rather than providing a beginning that immediately immerses the reader into the action of the story, it’s a very cliche ridden beginning that seemed to lack excitement and emotion. The dialogue especially seemed stale and noticeably uninspired.As a reader, it was hard for me to grasp the intensity of Embry emotions as she desperately decides how to save her son. Instead, I felt that I had to formulate those feelings myself. Since Kaleb’s writing seemed not able to evoke those feelings. Writing beginning chapters is definitely a difficult task because there’s so many options for a writer to choose from on how to begin the story. It was definitely a great way to starting the story but due to the poor execution of it; I did feel compelled to continue reading.
After the introduction, we are introduced to Bran, the protagonist of this story. Bran encompasses every aspect of “the” common protagonist. Nothing about his personality seems fresh to the target audience. He’s basically a normal fourteen year old boy, whose unaware at this point of the great abilities he possesses. Sounds a bit like another boy wizard, who also had no knowledge of their magical abilities. Along with Bran, we’re also introduced to the family that has decided to house him. If anyone whose reading this has read Harry Potter, you already have foreknowledge of the mannerisms of the family members, who have a striking resemblance to the Dursleys. There were a few slight variations as there are two additional members. One example of a similarity though is Sewey’s temper and extreme animosity of gnomes which is reminiscent of Vernon’s hatred of magic and anger. Now, I must admit that the interaction between the family members was very funny. Especially Sewey’s paranoid wife whose fears seemed identical to mine. Since I happen to be somewhat of a germaphobic.
As the plot of the novel begins to progress, things do get a tad bit more interesting as we’re introduced to characters such as Adi and her gnome. I would like to note that Bran’s interaction with the gnome was one of the more refreshing aspects of this story. And it’s where Kaleb Nation really shines. He seems to be well skilled in creating some truly great comedic moments. Yet his writing greatly falters when it comes to conveying emotions.
If there’s one element that seemed lacking it was the emotion of the characters. Right from the beginning, none of the characters are entirely three dimensional. Instead they are two dimensional and their development is greatly contrived. We’re never really able to comprehend the weight of Bran’s feelings of betrayal or sadness because Kaleb tells these feelings instead of showing them. When Kaleb does try showing these feels rather than telling them, he recycles the same words, similes, or descriptions. Now many veteran authors make these mistakes occasionally because we all have words or similes that we love. But Kaleb does it too often to dismiss. Sometimes the same description’s used every chapter or even within the same page. Referring back to my mention of being a very scrupulous reader, these mistakes are far too many to not note.
Towards the end, my earlier mixed feelings about this story soon developed into a feeling of great disappointment. Eventually, we’re introduced to the story’s main antagonistic force whose very similar to Voldemort within Harry Potter. Initially, I’d had the sense that Kaleb was throwing in some elements of Harry Potter that he was quite fond of. Yet, once we’re introduced to this villain and the atrocity he’d committed, Harry Potter fan will be able to easily recognize them from Harry Potter. Even a certain quote from Harry Potter, “As my power strengthens, your’s weakens,” seemed to be taken directly from the Harry Potter novels. Instead of being greatly bemused by this, I was quite dismayed that Kaleb would emulate various elements of Harry Potter. I’m a writer myself and can admit to incorporating elements of some my favorite novels within my own stories. But, going to extent where you’re emulating elements of another story’s plot is inexcusable.
At this point within the book, I forced myself to finish the story all in pursuit of providing an honest and well thought out review. Writing this review was a great challenge for me because I really wished not to convince Kaleb Nation that he should not write any more novels. Since I’m an aspiring writer myself, I would never convince someone to stall their writing. Instead, I’ve intended to inform him of some of the flaws of this story and aid in helping him grow as a writer. I’m striving to provide a balanced review without being too negative.
There were elements I loved including some of the jabs that Sewey makes and some of the comical elements of the city of Dunce. It’s these moments that prove he’s able to write and be incredibly creative. Also, the fact he was able to complete this story’s something to commend him on. Because completing any work is a very arduous process that takes a great amount of patience and energy. Kaleb’s a very humble, kind person whose determination has greatly helped in getting this published and gaining a great number of loyal followers (who’ll probably attack me with torches and unleash a band of feral gnomes upon me). I greatly respect him for that; but I also hope that he recognizes his story’s faults and continues to improve on his writing.
If you happen to read this Kaleb, I hope you understand that I wrote this as a means of providing aid in your continuing journey as a writer. And I offer my apologies for anything within this review that may disperage you from continuing that journey. Please strive to always work your hardest and recognize criticism not as a detractor but as something which can greatly help your development as a writer and even as a person. You’re someone who has a great personality and also someone who posesses strength that helps in forwarding yourself in life. As a writer, I wish you the best of luck and I hope you’ll see this review as an honest assessment and not something written by some cold hearted person who seeks to see you fail. Hopefully, your next book will be better than this one.
And the Bran Hambric’s Blog Promotion Tours continues with a host of different opinions about the book. Someone’s review may be much more positive than my own. Remember that’s because we all happen to have differing opinions and are entitled to them.
Sunday, August 30th
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James Holder’s YouTube Channel (video)
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Monday, September 7th
Life After Twilight vlog channel (video)
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Saturday, September 19th
As a way of defusing some of my reader’s anger and resentment at my negative review, here’s a song that reminded me of the plight of the gnomes and mages in Kaleb’s universe. All you should recognize the band! Enjoy the song and for your knowledge, I am a huge fan of this band and am very eager to hear the entirety of this album.