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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Review: Kensei by Jeremy Zimmerman

by Jeremy Zimmerman
DefCon One Publishing
Kensei is Jeremy Zimmerman's first novel. It's a young adult superhero novel with relatively few missteps. Readers fond of Gwenda Bond's Lois Lane series, will find a similar delight in these pages.

Jamie Hattori (aka Kensei, her superhero name) has just begun her journey as a superhero. She knows martial arts, wields a katana, and can speak to the spirits that haunt and protect buildings, cars, and objects like light bulbs.

On the one hand, her father supports this venture. Her mother, though, does not. It becomes the center of the family's discord--a center full of its own secrets.

Meanwhile, a mystery person has a rumor-mongering blog that not only stirs up strife at school but is also cursed. Victims receive strange apples. The blog gets Jamie into trouble when an athlete is ridiculed online--a slander attributed to Jamie. Jamie is determined to track down and stop whoever is at the bottom of this.

Her sleuthing leads creating new friends, unlikely allies ("frenemies") and even a new love interest, who may or may not be involved in this website.

On first encountering Zimmerman's work, one recognizes his smooth writing style--one that invites many readers in. It doesn't surprise me that so many readers have given the novel five star ratings on Amazon. It is a popular style that takes verbal shortcuts that welcomes with familiarity. A more literary reader might complain about, say, "She snorted with amusement." But it does capture a common response in few words. Not everything need be shown.

Zimmerman's plotting is deftly handled. Readers are sucked in with proper pacing--involving but without the paradoxical snoozing nonstop, break-neck pace. The characters are interesting, realistic teenagers without the need to be annoyingly "teen" (a trap for some YA characters). The speculative aspects, while fascinating, aren't fully explored. The major finale has a less credible moment, but it doesn't mar the overall charm of the novel, likely to draw a number of readers who stumble across this little gem.

A second title in the series, Kensei, The Love of Danger, has also recently appeared. If enough readers speak out about their love of his work, Zimmerman should build a loyal legion of followers, eager to read more.

Note: Some characters are gay, which may deter some readers while interesting others.

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