by Kenneth G. Bennett
Since I enjoyed EXODUS 2023 so much, I asked the author what else he had, and although these were published through Createspace, I had a go. I was not disappointing.
Book 1 of THE GAIA WARS series, by Kenneth G. Bennett is no more of a complete novel than was THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (see my review of Book 2, below). but the series is solid. I like the protagonist, Warren, and there is good characterization and plot. Be aware that this is unashamedly a Young Adult book, with YA themes and very suitable for the hard to select books for ten-to-twelve-year-old market. Add a star if you love the great outdoors, for the main character, orphaned 13-year-old Warren, is an avid outdoorsman like his uncle and deceased parents. What starts out as a small Cascadian town on the edge of the wilderness fighting development by an unscrupulous businessman soon turns into much more. I should note that the story never devolves into eco-preaching like Avatar or Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.
Warren finds a 500-year-old skeleton with a couple of artifacts, but he can only stop to grab one atrifact as he is being chased by the bullying son of the developer after a prank backfires. Warren hides his find: a gold seven-sided disk with seven purple stones and a flat obsidian in the middle. He prank gets him in trouble with the law, and he ends up doing community service in a nursing home.
The mystery of the residents and workers at the home centers around a young woman with amnesia who lives there. It turns on the artifact, which is a key to a number of centuries-old mysteries that may or may not be tied to alien visitors, manifestations of an earth goddess, and deadly danger.
I’m reviewing this in tandem with THE BATTLE FOR CASCADIA, The Second Book of the Gaia Wars. They are really one novel split into two halves, and should be purchased and read together. Again, it’s YA – but then so are the Harry Potter books so don’t let that stop you.
The characters from Book one, above, are in a fight for their lives. The developer has been possessed, for lack of a better word, by an exploiting personality, and is raising an army of super-soldiers grown as pod people that can take the identity of anyone they touch. This villain wants the artifact, as it is a key, and he will stop at nothing; the woman with amnesia is also a key. Local law enforcement, the Marines, FBI, and the air force cannot even slow him down. There’s a chase scene with a UPS truck (a literary first, as far as I know), and a trail of bodies all arrowing toward young Warren and his unlikely allies, the artifact, and the woman with amnesia. They are trying to get her to remember who she is before the possessed developer and his hordes reach her: only she, with Warren’s help and the artifact, can stop someone who will destroy the world if he cannot enslave it.
Lots of imaginative world building went into this series. Consider buying it for the tweens on your Christmas list, and expect them to request the next book in the series when it comes out, because THE BATTLE FOR CASCADIA ends with a scene as suggestive as Darth Vader escaping the Death Star.