Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Review: "November Knight" By Michael J. Pollack

Book Review: “November Knight” By Michael J. Pollack

Occasionally I read a novel that causes a tingle in my mind, a recognition that I am partaking of a work that will remain in my memory. November Knight is such a book.

I don’t care if you are eighteen or eighty, this book will lure you and hold you captive until the last word…and still have you wanting more.

Author Michael J. Pollack has a magic touch. His ability to take you from the space where you read and place you in the moment he conjures with his pen is superb.

Meet Jimmie Knight, a seventeen year old who plays a wicked guitar and writes lyrics that can alter your world. Jimmie has a gift, a gift that threatens to destroy him. He possesses the paranormal ability to see the future, without the ability to alter its outcome. The gift becomes his torment. A heavy regret and deep feelings of failure as he ‘sees’ what is to come and yet reacts too late to prevent tragedy occurring.

Author Michael J.Pollack allows the reader to journey back in memory with Jimmie to a place and time 5 years before. A place {the ore pit} of obsidian water and unfathomable depths. Jimmie “sees” a young girl enter the water and disappear from view, he sees her struggle against the death that awaits her, he sees the panic and hears the urgent screams echoing around the place where she entered the water. He is frozen in place for a fraction of time…a moment…long enough to allow the tragedy to happen... he races to the place; a twelve year old boy intent on only one thing and that is saving the girl in the water.

His own life begins to ebb away as he frantically attempts to reach the child... Melody. His desperate attempts hold you breathless as you transcend the depths with him, you join his fight, you feel his pain as jagged abandoned machinery tears at his face; you are there as his lungs give out and he is forced back to the surface within feet of reaching Melody.

He is pulled to the surface and lay bleeding badly where the jagged edge of the machinery has all but destroyed one of his ears. His father works frantically to resuscitate his lifeless body, and succeeds. Melody is not so fortunate and Jimmie spends the next 5-year period with a heavy burden of guilt, failure, and unanswered questions tormenting him. Jimmie turns to music, music elevates his soul to a place where he feels at peace…his guitar and the way he plays it is eerie, surreal, and brilliant.

Meet, Ember (November) Grace. Beautiful, popular and every teenage boys dream. Yet Ember is far more, she is a warm, loving friend and she is connected to Jimmie although they have never spoken. She is drawn to him in ways she doesn’t understand. The author makes us care about his characters, he breathes life into them, allowing fallibility, permitting them to live and draw breath on the page.

Even the peripheral characters become alive under his pen. We are permitted to see them and feel for them. With wonderful use of dialogue that rings true (teen speak) is perfect, a knowledge of music that takes you onstage with Jimmie and his band, and the introduction of important characters such as Sydney, Michael and Renee are significant as the pressure placed on every teen emerges, the pressure to be cool, popular.. The pressure to belong.

Jimmie’s horrendous dreams continue, he is in the grip of a nightmare and struggles to understand its meaning. Who are the nineteen children he sees in his dream? Why is it that the people surrounding him are changing and turning on him, what is the connection?

Ember and Jimmie are on a collision course that will provide answers, yet on that journey, this author will take you to the edges of fear and beyond. I found myself holding my breath, shivering with the descriptions of an evil presence that pulsates on the page.

The book transcends the YA label: yes, it is a coming of age journey, a trip inside our fears…more than that it is a fast paced, beautifully written work. I have no hesitation whatsoever recommending “November Knights” to anyone who loves fine craftsmanship whatever the genre. I found it riveting and memorable.

You can purchase the book here

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