Sunday, November 10, 2013

Life Under the Jaguar Sun

How this little book, Jaguar Sun by Martha Bourke, slipped under the bottom of my reading pile (especially since I use a Kindle) I will never know.  But I found it there, calling my name, weakly since I had ignored it for so long! I couldn't let it lie there a moment longer. Now I have read both this book and a book by Dark Moon by Maggie Tideswell and it is time to do some sharing!  We will start with Jaguar Sun and in the next few days I will add Dark Moon.

Jaguar Sun
By Martha Bourk
ISBN-13: 9780984924011  
Publisher: Balam Press
Publication date: 12/23/2011
Pages: 268

From Barnes and Noble:
        December 21, 2012: Will that fateful day destroy our world, or did the Mayans have something else in mind? Maya Delaney knows. Unfortunately. Maya Delaney is just an average sixteen-year-old. She's busy dealing with exams, her soon to be ex-boyfriend and fitting in. But Maya's got bigger problems. She's hiding a major secret from her dad and she's having strange visions she can't control. In her struggle to figure out who she is, she learns that she is meant to fulfill an ancient Mayan Prophesy and bring forth a New Age on earth. Will the spirit magic Maya wields be enough to defeat Toltec, an evil society bent on keeping her from her destiny? Or will that destiny itself destroy her?

About the book:  
      It is important to understand this book is not set in our universe, exactly.  There are certain things taken for everyday occurrences that don't exist in our world.  If you've read books set in worlds where vampires exist and everyone just accepts them, then you know what I am talking about. Maya, 16, is the typical high school student with a boyfriend, Matt, and two best friends, twins Alyssa and Damian. She lives alone with her dad because her 'loser' mom took off years before. While Maya is having trouble with the new life Matt has since he become a member of the varsity football team, more trouble is lurching, following her, literally, first in her dreams and then into her school. Maya's about to change, not just in a way that is slightly accepted in her society but in a new, startling way. It is then she learns how much her friends support her and how much Matt loves her as he is forced into a change he wasn't meant for.
    Her family history has made Maya one of the greats, destine to fight incredible evil about to be unleashed on the world. Her grandmother is a stanch ally and although she doesn't know all the answers, she steers Maya toward someone she thinks can help.  But can Victrixa really help? 


      There is a lot of Maya historical religion in this book as we watch the battle between two worlds unfold. Maya is at the center of this conflict.  I don't know much about Mayan mythology and religion, so I don't know how well Bourke covered those beliefs. And this book only scratched the surface.  There will be more to come.

My Take:
      The book is written in first person and at the beginning there are a lot of LONG parenthetically phrases. By the fourth or fifth page I was starting to worry.  In reality, this just sets the tone for the character and soon those phrases give way to the story, and as a reader we now have a clearer picture of what Maya is like.  Couple that with her dislike of her 'loser' mom and her almost hatred of her boyfriend Matt's movement into the 'popular' part of her school's social circles and the image is complete. 
       The pace of the book is a little uneven, with the beginning being very slow without enough meat and the middle and end being almost too quick, the conflicts and hidden agendas almost nonexistent.  I would have liked Bourke to spend more time on the actual transformation of both Maya and Matt, as well as the deception of one of the people Maya trusted, before moving on to the larger conflict. This may also have added more tension in the beginning of the story, helping it to run smoother and faster. There was one 'continuity error', I believe, and it bothered me for the entire book.  Grandma said, "I know a woman who is .... She's older than me." Yet when Maya meets the woman, she is obviously young and vivacious.  Did the author make a mistake or, if not, why wouldn't Maya be taken back to find this dark haired beauty instead of what she would already have in her mind? This stuck with me because it could have been a plot point but was never used so it hung there like a half-finished sentence.  Since there are more books to follow, that might be used later but it stuck with me the whole book.
       Bourke writes with a style (except for those parenthetically phrases), that is easy to read, that sparks the brain to create clear clean images, and that is absorbed quickly. It is chaste enough for any age and a writing level that would suit an avid reader over the age of 8 or 9 but seems to be directed mostly to someone in high school.
        The plot is a little straightforward but interesting since it involves the Mayan's beliefs; something that hasn't suffered from overuse yet.The questions left unanswered by the end of the book seem to be setting the story up for a series.  And yes, I later found out that the book is indeed the beginning of a series.

My Recommendation:
      I did enjoy the book and the characters. If you like something with a mythological base, suited for young teens, this could be the book for you. 

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