Brimming with intriguing paranormal details, Smith’s latest, a tale of supernatural action, boasts vividly wrought characters and a satisfying, carefully paced narrative following five teenage boys’ gradual transition from regular high school kids to the saviors of the town. Night after the Danville Heights football team wins the championship, Jordan, Rhee, Kinsu, Alex, and Chase, five high-school friends, stumble upon a mysterious energy source and develop heightened senses and abilities. A lurking, Dark Stranger seems to know everything about the boys, and a strikingly beautiful, fearless girl lends way to heightened confusion. As the group struggle to come to terms with their newly acquired supernatural powers, they find the future of Danville is on death’s door. The friends must prepare themselves to face dangerous forces if they want to save their hometown. The story brims with superhero intrigue, and the true tension comes from watching the group struggle to wrestle with the “other” beyond themselves, while overcoming a battle that is closer to their hearts than they realize. Smith’s deft, polished narrative alternates between numerous different perspectives, demanding careful reading on the reader’s part, and the ever-changing network of alliances and betrayals can almost be too intricate to follow at times. But her skill with the plotting is more than enough to hold readers’ attention. Smith excellently portrays the conflict of her characters who exist in two worlds, the idealistic small town of Danville Heights and the dark, gloomy town of Sandry Lake, where evil abounds and corruption and crime manifest in mysterious ways. Jordan, Rhee, Kinsu, Alex, and Chase are dynamic and multifaceted characters. Druth is equally compelling as an antagonist. The young Mason, with his gentle concern for his big brother, is a complete darling. The narrative grapples with nuances and contradictions as the boys first try to make sense of their newly acquired abilities, then grapple with the weight of their new responsibility that requires them to fight the malevolent forces. Through the boys’ growing realization about their role in the bigger scheme of things, Smith deftly discusses themes of responsibility, duty, loyalty, integrity, fear, courage, and triumph. Along the way, she weaves an exploration of young adult drama, individual struggles, guilt, regret, the significance of friendship and family, solidarity, and what it means to be courageous. Employing a fully-fleshed-out cast of intriguing characters with plenty of emotional depth, this high action-adventure skillfully explores the fight between good-versus-evil while maintaining a fast-paced clip. A solid YA supernatural adventure.
The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses
Two Petals Publishing; 2nd ed. edition
Pub date September 3, 2015
Price $12.95 (USD) Paperback, $2.99 Kindle edition