About the book:
Elemental Manipulation is tricky. Only those with the power can train to become a Draev Guardian.
Cyrus Sole hates life. She’s only half-human, with weak wrists, and not a day goes by when someone doesn’t say something mean about it. But when the forbidden power to manipulate metal awakens inside her, everything changes as the Argos Corps is sent to hunt her down…
Aken is a Scourgeblood, the last in a line of monsters. But all he really wants is to gain wings and be free. Until a new power suddenly awakens, changing the course of his life…
The Draev Guardian Academy is their only sanctuary. But training to become a Draev won’t be easy. Cyrus has to hide her human side, as she gets placed in Floor Harlow with the outcast students, and nightmares of her deceased mother keep returning.
With creepy Corpsed on the prowl, and whispers of Cyrus possibly being a reborn Hero, both she and Aken find themselves caught up in a web of secrets, racial tension, and an old legend with enemies that could spell their untimely demise…
This middle grade fantasy by E.E. Rawls has some fascinating world-building that a young reader could easily get lost in. The “Abilities” that the students at Dravensett have are diverse, well-thought, intricate, and interesting. She has created quite a vast magic system with rules for each Ability and race, making the characters have use their differences to work together. A wonderful lesson!
Tucked within the pages of Strayborn are several beautiful lessons that young people really need to hear and take to heart. There is a lot about not judging a book by its cover and seeing the heart instead, or about not comparing yourself to others, but striving to be the best version of you, that kiddos these days definitely need to be reminded of often.
There were some issues for me as a reader, however. The author inserted onomatopoeic words (such as bong-bong or skrnch-chnk) that either didn’t leave much to the imagination of the reader, or took me out of the story because my mind was trying to figure out just what that word was supposed to sound like. I think she did this because it’s a middle grade novel, and she felt she had to help young readers understand, but it seemed a little over-the-top to me.
Also, for a middle grade book, this was quite long: over 400 pages. If a middle-grade-level reader is going to tackle a book this size, they are likely going to be a decent reader to begin with, and likely won’t need the extra help of all the onomatopoeic words. And there are quite a few little errors that a good editor could clean up quickly, but that could lead to confusion for younger readers.
Overall, though, Strayborn is a decent read for a middle-grade-level reader, and the world building is definitely interesting.
Thanks to the author for providing an e-copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂