Let me set the stage for you. I was a fledgling book blogger. One month into my new adventure and I was already disillusioned. I had thought that it would be hard to find books to review, but it turned out to be quite easy, almost too easy. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 books that were sent my direction in those days, were absolute rubbish. Not badly written stories per se, just really in need of a great editor. I hadn’t quite figured out how to say nicely, “sorry, no one will want to read this like that.” It takes a lot for me to not want to read a book, but I had become leery of the author who just dropped in out of nowhere with “How can I get you to review my book?” and then I got just such a message from John Darryl Winston. I hadn’t yet learned to say “no” (who are we kidding, when comes to books I still haven’t learned to say “no”), and he wanted to send me, not a file or an eBook, but an actual book and actual books have to be good right? I mean, they smell so much better than my eReader. I gave him my address and the rest is history.
First off, it arrived on my birthday, a very auspicious sign if I do say so. Then, he had gone to the trouble of signing it and forever inserted himself onto my favorite author list, because if you are going to send someone your book to read, a signed book is the way to go. Luckily for me and the hordes of readers who have read his books, he deserves to be on that list for more than just being a thoughtful person. He tells a really good story.
“IA: Initiate” sucked me in and took me to another world. A place that was foreign to me, but one I almost recognized. Naz Anderson, the young protagonist, and his younger sister Meri, tugged at my maternal instinct and challenged me intellectually. It was not a chore to finish this book and shout to the world that I had read it and they really should too.
Not long after I had posted my review of book one, I received the message that “IA: B.O.S.S.” , was soon to be headed my way. I couldn’t wait to jump in and learn more of their story. Naz had discovered how special he was and with the help of Meri and a few close friends he was about to explore it and I got to go along for the ride. I should have seen it coming, things were going almost too well, but I wasn’t prepared for the end of the book and I suffered Naz’s loss right along with him. But then, I actually had to wait to see what happens next. I mean really actually wait. For forever. I mean how is a reader supposed to do real life, when she doesn’t know how the story ends?
Well, John Darryl Winston is still one of my favorite authors because recently he put book 3, “IA: Union” into my hands and then patiently waited for me to finish it. It turns out real life doesn’t care how the story ends, it just happens anyway regardless of the half finished book beckoning from the computer.
In this, the third installment in the series Naz and his closest friend decide to track down the person(s) responsible for Meri’s death and find out more about who he really is. With the help of his buddy Harvis, he has been exploring the edges of his talents and the time has come to put them to good use. Still, as single minded as Naz can be, D has come back into his life and with her, a degree of normalcy that he hadn’t ever had the chance to experience before. It would be easy for him to get sidetracked. When she disappears, it will take all of his skills, and the loyal support of his friends, to find her. All the while clues to his past are unwinding around him, clouding the issue. With new characters and new insights into those we already know, this book builds to an end that is as good as it is unexpected.
I am not even ashamed to admit that the opening chapter ripped me up. It gave me a deeper insight to the suffering of Naz and for one moment I dared to hope. It got my heart was pumping and made me NEED answers too. How could I not be involved after that? My middle-class sub-urban upbringing couldn’t be further from the experiences of Naz and his friends. Yet, I can slip into their world with an ease that is almost sublime. That is actually the beauty of this series. The characters are old friends and the world is as real as the one outside your window. Naz doesn’t have much in the way of family, not anymore, but one of the great strengths of this story from the beginning is how it shows that family becomes the people you choose to have around you and Naz has chosen well, or some cases, been chosen.
This story took some twists that I didn’t see coming and I have already communicated to its creator that it is a story that can continue for many books to come. I sincerely hope this isn’t the last we will see of Naz Anderson and his crew. I am definitely hopeful for more from Mr. Winston, who is always welcome to send me a book to read.
You can pick up IA: Initiate and IA: B.O.S.S at your favorite retail outlets.
IA: Union goes on sale November 24th