February 5, 2014

Phoenix: Out of the Ashes Book 1 - by Jeff Stone

Mountain biking, kung fu, a tough girl with deep secrets, and a very, very old grandfather.  Bring these all together and you've got the story of 14-year-old Phoenix Collins, a mountain-biking teenager with a mission.  Full of action, fighting, cycling, and a bit of history and travel, this exciting book kicks off a new series with a pretty unique version of good guys vs. bad guys.

Jeff Stone wrote the Five Ancestors series, which was seven books about ancient kung fu warrior children who had the adventure of a lifetime as they traveled and fought to save their country and all that they believed in.  It was an excellent series, and this book carries the same story forward 400 years, with a new set of characters.  While you could read this series on its own, I think it will mean more if read after the original series.

The writing is tight, the pacing is exciting, maybe even thrilling, and the detail is exquisite.  However, the talk about cycling, both mountain biking and cyclocross, is overly detailed, and may lose (or win? who knows!) readers in the intended age range.  In this way, it reminded me of Will Hobbs books like Go Big or Go Home, which are good, but very sport-detail-heavy.  Overall, this is an excellent book that I did not want to put down!

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