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Sep132017

Book Review: Let’s Get To Work: Episode Two of The Prodigy Series

Let’s Get To Work: Episode Two of The Prodigy Series. John F. Thomas. Los Angeles: Thomas Heri Visions, July 2, 2017, Trade Paperback and E-book, 96 pages.

Reviewed by Jose Nateras.

In author John F. Thomas’ second installment of The Prodigy Series, readers find themselves thrust right into the action. Picking up where the first book left off, Let’s Get to Work continues the story of young John Prodigy as he trains in preparation for the impending Affinity Trials. As with many sequels, Let’s Get to Work avoids excess exposition or world building, instead relying on the given circumstances established in the series’ first installment, Humble Beginnings. In that way, Let’s Get to Work feels almost like the second episode of a television show or comic book, rather than a complete work in and of itself. Given the short length of the chapters and book as whole, there is something almost episodic about it. Overall, this works, allowing the story to function as a smaller part of a larger series; this makes it a fun, quick read that leaves the reader excited for the next installment.

As an author, Thomas definitely wears his influences on his sleeve. With hints of The Karate Kid, The Hunger Games, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Maze Runner, and even Naruto, Thomas creates a fun world, complete with a fantastic map that manages to be simultaneously familiar and new. Action happens as quickly as the plot develops and a clear sense of the author’s enthusiasm for the material imbues the book with a youthful sense of adventure. Choosing to write in the present tense adds to the sense that John Prodigy’s struggles are happening in a moment-to-moment way that, while sometimes disorienting, allows readers to strongly associate with the young protagonist’s state of mind. As a narrative overall, Let’s Get to Work definitely succeeds in its goal to create a new piece of genre fiction along the lines of the author’s previously mentioned influences. Is it relatively derivative? Sure, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Thomas achieves something extremely refreshing in the use of familiar genre conventions to put a main character of color in the center of a fairly established narrative form—especially since the book doesn’t try to be anything more than it is. Thomas’ commitment to the genre allows readers to enjoy his work as genre material, and by doing so, he creates an original character that resembles some we’ve seen before.  

Fans of young adult fiction, in particular of the action or fantasy variety, will definitely find Let’s Get to Work an entertaining jaunt through the world that Thomas has lovingly crafted. As with any original fantasy world, the intricacies and structures at play within Thomas’ fictive society do take some parsing out, and as such, it would behoove readers to consider reading the first installment in the series beforehand. Jumping into Let’s Get to Work without the context provided in Humble Beginnings definitely risks leaving newcomers to the series at a bit of a loss.

 

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