Publication Date/Version: July 2007/Paperback
Publisher: Earthshaker Books
Age Group: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Received From: Publisher/Editor (Thanks!)
The hero, Zan-Gah seeks his lost twin in a savage prehistoric world, encountering suffering, captivity, conflict, love, and triumph. In three years, Zan-Gah passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership among his people.
Zan-Gah lives in a prehistoric world, as a part of a tribe that hunts lions, lives in caves, and fights with enemy tribes. Zan-Gah, as the reader quickly finds out, gained his name from the fact that he killed a mountain lion. With his new found courage and strength, he sets off to find his missing brother, braving strange worlds and deadly enemies.
Zan-Gah was not a novel I would have picked up on my own, as, I hate to admit, I really do judge books by their cover. I imagine plenty of you are the same. This book, however, completely surprised me in just how much I enjoyed it.
Prehistoric fiction is something I've never come across, and I would have been likely never to again if my first experience hadn't been a good one. Zan-Gah, luckily, blew away my expectations and left me wanting more.
Zan-Gah, or simply Zan, is a character that's easy to relate to, though a bit inaccessible at times. Though his world and culture are completely different, he still feels and hopes in the same way. I found the beginning of this book to be a bit slow and tedious, but once Zan-Gah set out to find his brother, Dael, the pacing quickly sped up. Allan Richard Shickman did a great job of describing the terrains and populations that Zan encountered. I was fascinated by the other tribes, as well as how Zan-Gah managed to survive his arduous trek.
The book, only 150 pages or so, flew by, and I was happy to find myself flipping pages without realizing. My only complaint is that Shickman would sometimes tell, rather than show. His descriptions about everyday were wonderful, but in intense moment, such as fighting wolves. He simple said that they managed to fight them off, giving only a sentence to the moment. I would have enjoyed more detail, as this type of thing happened occasionally throughout the text.
Zan-Gah is a book that I recommend to all young or middle grade readers, as well as to young adult readers who are willing to put aside their high-and-mighty views (I do this too!) and try out something new. Don't let the somewhat unpleasing aesthetics fool you - this book deserves to be read and is definitely one of my surprise favorites of the year! I look forward to reading the sequel.
Overall: A surprising favorite! Wonderful details. Exciting glimpse into a completely different world.
My Advice: If you're a librarian, teacher, or have young/middle grade readers, I would buy this. If you're a young adult reader, please give it a chance!
Cover: I wish the cover did it more justice. It's not the best, but it does hold relevance to the story. Don't let it deter you!
*This was read as a part of the 100+ Reading Challenge