Evocative, intelligently written, and emotionally stirring… A page-turning YA fantasy.
In this engrossing series kicker, Roman explores themes of self-doubt, identity, and self-discovery via a vibrantly conceived, SF-tinged tale. The middle school at Middlebury Middle is mostly bullying and petty animosities, but it’s almost over for the childhood friends Grady and Aarush. The boys are hoping to get into the esteemed Templeton Academy, an institute for a select few, to start their high school. When finally, their dream comes true, the teens’ lives are plunged into chaos as they investigate a profound mystery, whose implications affect their own safety and the future of the world. Roman creates a finely crafted, tense environment, but the setup begins to feel tedious as it takes a while for the story behind the monolith is revealed. However, once the revelation comes to surface, the novel becomes a taut, fast-paced page-turner. While intricate plotting and the intimate first-person narration by Grady keep the pages turning, it’s Aarush’s tireless pursual of his goal and his resolute determination that truly distinguishing this tale. He is a remarkable protagonist, strong of will and sharp of mind, and his maturity and utter practicality add layers to his unique personality. Grady’s struggles with his self-doubts, his desire to break free from external pressures, and the endearing bond he shares with Aarush imbue the narrative with a healthy dose of drama. Roman’s portrayal of teenage self-doubt and angst is authentic, and discussions of autism and bullying are handled with honesty and empathy. Despite the story’s vast SF scope, Roman never loses sight of its immediate human elements, including a strong sense of connection and endearing friendship between its main protagonists. A winner.
Grady Whill and the Templeton Codex
Carole P. Roman
Chelshire, Inc.; 1st edition
Pub date July 18, 2022
Price $7.75 (USD) Kindle