Young Adult - Fantasy - General
276 Pages
Reviewed on 03/14/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Bryan Kuderna lives in New Jersey with his wife, three children, and dog- Kona. He is the founder of Kuderna Financial Team and host of The Kuderna Podcast. He enjoys reading and sports, having completed the National Marathon and International Ironman in Quebec, CAN. His passion for fantasy and helping youth sparked the story of Anoroc, a labor of love completed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Anoroc by Bryan Kuderna is a highly entertaining coming-of-age fantasy novel. This compelling, well-written novel is set in a place called Anoroc and centers around Beeker, who is trying to make it in life, caught between being a kid and being an adult. He and his little brother Dak have to leave their familiar hut on the dusty Plains and move to the Mountains, but it's more their mother's choice to do so. She is a single mother, so they live with their Uncle Dobo in these Mountains. Dobo is a leader of the Militia and is famous for being a war hero. But Red Robes and White Robes are becoming increasingly at odds with each other, leaving Beeker, Dak, and their peers realizing that something in Anoroc needs to change, but there could be a price to pay.

Kuderna is a talented writer who wastes no time getting into the story, and the hearts and minds of his readers. This character-driven story will draw familiar parallels for the audience but offers new and dynamic ideas as well. This author's world-building skills and character development are obvious and plentiful, and the plot itself is irresistible in a fun, intriguing way. The descriptions are detailed, pulling you into the story and lives of the characters. You really become caught up in the conflicts, and there is no lag in the pacing; just an ending that satisfies (if not a little sad). I love the relationship between the brothers, and the bond with their mother, and the way Beeker has to learn new things by way of training with his uncle. So, you'll get to see good amounts of growth and change with the characters. I was relieved that Kuderna didn't keep us in the dark in the beginning about Beeker and Dak being furry creatures called Chigidies--he revealed this on the first few pages, which to me makes the perfect introduction to the characters and story. You'll find enough action and plot points to keep you invested until the end. If you're looking for an adventure-filled character-driven fantasy novel, Anoroc by Bryan Kuderna should be at the top of your to-read list.

Maureen Dangarembizi

Anoroc by Bryan M. Kuderna is a young adult coming-of-age fantasy. The world of the Chigidies is divided by the color of their robes. Beeker’s father was once a member of the Unios, those who wear red robes, but later took up the white robe. These groups are so divided that they can only co-mingle in one place and that is the Plains. Unknown to Beeker and his family, trouble is brewing below the surface. The red and white robes are going to war for scarce resources. Beeker’s mother moves them to the mountains where he will train with his Uncle Dobo. When the war comes, it will cost Beeker dearly in ways he never imagined. With danger all around, he must find the strength to do what is needed to protect those he loves.

I enjoy coming-of-age stories and Anoroc takes the not quite grown Beeker into an untenable situation in which he must grow or die. The world of the Chigidies is quite epic and Beeker’s story is filled with many lessons for the young and old. Just like humans, the Chigidies face the challenges of differing beliefs, and unfortunately, like humans, some would rather kill to attain their goals rather than use unity and peace. Action junkies will get their fill of adventure as Bryan M. Kuderna puts Beeker in really tight spots. This story is well written and immerses the reader in a colorful world and an interesting species. I think this tale teaches mostly the principles of surviving the right way. This is something important if Earth is to have a future.

Pikasho Deka

Anoroc is a young adult fantasy novel written by Bryan Kuderna. Set in the fictional land of Anoroc, the book follows the intelligent, mechanically adept creatures named Chigidies, who are divided into groups of red robes and white robes. Beeker is a tenacious young Chigidy, who, alongside his little brother Dak, feels overjoyed when they are sent to live in the mountains with their Uncle Dobo. Upon their arrival, Dobo wastes no time admitting them to the Militia Academy where they learn vital lessons in survival. Meanwhile, Beeker's old schoolmate Hoofa inadvertently finds himself joining the secret underground order of the plains named Junto, whose only mission seems to create havoc.

A well-written adventure story, Bryan Kuderna's fantasy novel is made rich by its original and immersive setting and eccentric main characters. I found Anoroc an entertaining experience because of Bryan Kuderna's wonderfully detailed worldbuilding that I couldn't help but marvel at. The plot moves at a decent pace, and the usage of multiple POVs provides the overall narrative with an added sense of authenticity. I found the characters relatable, and their quirks and distinct personalities made them all the more enjoyable. In my opinion, the bittersweet nature of the climax enhances the significance of the story, making it more realistic. I was not a big fan of the politics between the red robes and the white robes, but I can see how that might be intriguing to some. I would recommend Anoroc to fantasy readers who love coming-of-age stories.

Lit Amri

Anoroc by Bryan M. Kuderna is a coming-of-age fantasy set in a world populated by beings called the Chigidies that are anthropomorphic bears. Beeker lives with his younger brother, Dak, and their mother in the Plains. He's trying to find his way in life especially after his father was taken away due to his act of noncompliance. Then their mother sends them away to live with their uncle, a renowned war hero, in the mountains as the tension heightens between the white-robed and red-robed Chigidies. The Chigidies are scrambling for sparse resources as the population grows, especially for Painite. The brothers' innocent days of childhood in the Plains are over, as they have to train and be ready for the impending war.

The world-building of Anoroc sets a perfect stage for antagonism; the Wetlands, the Mountains, and the Plains are populated by the same species but with different opinions. Peace, hard work, and freedom coexist with less desirable elements such as greed, anger, and malice. While there's the main focus on Beeker's self-discovery and other characters' personal ambitions, the story also touches on subjects including the interesting politics of Anoroc and moral sense. The action scenes intensify as the plot progresses; tough situations raise the question of whether the ends justify the means. Light moments are in contrast with the dark ones, as the characters have to suffer hardships and losses. With its satisfying conclusion, Kuderna's Anoroc is an epic coming-of-age fantasy in its own right that will entertain its targeted readers.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

In the land of Anoroc, Chigidies lead a civil life, complete with a well-structured social system and a distinct division of labor. However, incidents of altercations between the red-robed and white-robed Chigidies seem to be on the rise. Painite, a precious metal present in Anoroc in limited quantities, is the root cause of this growing unrest. Beeker, a young, white-robed Chigidy, gets into a vicious fight with Hoofa, the red-robed school bully. When his mother sends him and his younger brother to live with their uncle Dobo, the duo becomes involved in a military operation. Anoroc, a fantasy novel written by Bryan M. Kuderna, chronicles their attempts to bring down the Junto, a rebellious group of red-robes wreaking havoc in their lands.

The world-building capabilities of Bryan M. Kuderna demand applause. The incorporation of even the minutest details relating to the complicated social structures, beliefs, and stigmas brought the land of Anoroc alive. The chapters told from Beeker's and Hoofa’s perspectives portrayed how the impending war affected the young generation. Kuderna provided a vivid description of Beeker’s rage and befuddlement as the circumstances forced him to grow up too fast. The war snatched from him the few comforts of life, leaving him utterly alone in the middle of a turbulent world. In this respect, Anoroc doubles as a coming-of-age story. The apparent rivalry between Beeker and his brother, Dak, belies a loving bond that warmed my heart. The twisted politics and the brutality of war made the read heart-rending. I would recommend Anoroc to young adults who appreciate fantasy stories set in alternate worlds.

Slick Dungeon

Anoroc is home to mythical creatures known as Chigidies. These are small furry creatures who live in plains, wetlands or mountains and have advanced technology like vehicles and weapons of war. Their society revolves around a finite resource known as Painite. Beeker and his little brother live in the plains with their mother. Life is good for them in the innocent days of their early childhood.

When events outside of Beeker's control sweep him and his family up in a potential war between Chgidies who wear white robes and those who wear red robes, his world quickly changes. He has to live and train with his uncle Dobo who has much to teach him about life.

While the story is mostly well constructed there is a bit of frequent head hopping that happens. The politics of Anoroc can also be a bit fuzzy and difficult to follow but not so much that the reader will not enjoy the story. Beeker is the standout character as we are able to understand where he is coming from and are with him through his moments of triumph and struggle. He has to go through intense training with his uncle and learn wisdom there as well as be a key figure in the impending war.

The story comes to a satisfying conclusion even if it is a bit abrupt. There is plenty of action once things get going in the story to keep the reader engaged. Anthropomorphic tales can be difficult to tell well but author Bryan Kuderna does a fine job of making the characters interesting without making them oversimplified.

If you are a fan of coming of age stories, specifically set in a time of strife or conflict, with world events happening around the characters, this is a good book to add to your shelf.

Sarah Foil

While there are some exciting, high-intensity moments, most scenes focused on more intimate details of the character’s lives. However, the author writes these quite scenes in such a way that I did find myself engaged and pulled along through the story, which is a difficult thing to accomplish. So while the pacing of the book was not what I expected, the plot itself was intriguing and easy to read.

The main character, Beeker, is primarily the lens through which the reader sees the story, but the author does occasionally jump to other perspectives. I found this charring, especially in the opening chapters, and would have preferred to stick with the main character throughout. Additionally, I struggled to connect to Beeker’s voice, as it mixed casual, modern language with more stiff, formal language that you might see in classic fantasy novels.

The world author Bryan M. Kuderna created in this book is rich with details and lore. It’s clear the author put a lot of effort into creating this setting and that shines through in his writing. I did struggle to center myself in the story, though, as the world was at a strange point between familiar and new, so when new elements were introduced, I often found myself second-guessing assumptions I’d made previously about how this society looks and functions.

Anoroc is great read for fans of Dune and other metaphorical fantasy stories. Fans of more typical young adult fantasy novels may find the plot a bit slow and struggle to connect with the main character or setting, but the author’s engaging writing style makes it worth the read.

A Life on Books

An enthralling Young Adult fantasy novel rife with sociopolitical and coming-of-age themes

Anoroc is Bryan Kuderna’s second book, however, it’s much different than his first one–Millennial Millionaire: A Guide to Become a Millionaire by 30. It’s pleasantly surprising that someone so invested in the business world and a podcast series focused on financial matters can also devote energy into writing a captivating 267 page Young Adult (YA) fantasy novel.

The setting is the planet Anoroc with The Wetlands to the west, The Plains in the middle, and The Mountains to the east. Knowing the physical layout of the land is important and there’s a helpful map on the opening pages. Anoroc is inhabited by the Chigidies, a race of intelligent beings who are very reminiscent of Star Wars Wookies–short, furry, and mostly cute creatures. Their society has been segregated into two groups–wearers of white robes and wearers of red robes. Most of the red robes work for Unios which can fairly be compared to a massive union. Their members include the likes of landscapers, waste management personnel, teachers, and diggers–historically the most important workers in all of Anoroc because they dig for Painite. It’s been years since diggers have found any of this precious raw material which is unfortunate since it’s the backbone of Anoroc’s economy. The white robes are essentially everyone else–a mix of working class and very wealthy families. The red and white robes have a mixed history–sometimes peaceful other times spiteful. With population numbers creeping to new highs and an economy sinking to new lows, they wonder how did they get into this dilemma in the first place? And how does Anoroc move forward?

Don’t be scared away because high school teachers might enjoy this novel. Along with its intellectual ferocity Anoroc a downright emotionally engaging, steadily-paced, page-turner kind of story. There’s no sexual content, but there are a few scenes of bloody violence in the final 50 pages. A major part of Anoroc’s emotional appeal derives from its characters. Some are easy to emphasize with, but most are quite complex. Any emotionally intelligent reader will recognize how external conflicts contribute to their complexity–making them a bit harder to love, or forcing you to question their actions. But this makes it no less enjoyable to watch how they navigate their dilemmas. It’s pacing feels on point–meditative where it needs to be and quick when the scene calls for it. Kuderna’s style is mature, but not fully adult. It fits the YA genre well with external conflicts of sociopolitical unrest with internal conflicts of adolescent maturation. And we shouldn’t overlook Kuderna’s beautiful prose. One of the many examples comes from Beeker’s description of living The Mountains, “Living up here was like reading every line of every page in a lengthy novel compared to only having viewed the cover over the past fifteen years” (p. 84).

Some hardcore adult fantasy readers might be put off that Kuderna’s universe is set in a galaxy not so far far away. While the Chigidies and their planet are fictional, just about everything else isn’t. There’s karate, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a very familiar school system, and even church. It’s likely that Kuderna didn’t want to spend an extra 200 pages developing this universe into the next Dune. It’s a novel aimed at younger readers who could connect with its characters and themes better if the universe were easier to digest.

Not all is perfect in Anoroc. It feels a bit didactic at times with too many Confucius-esque aphorisms sprinkled about. Most are wise and truthful, but it sometimes feels like it's trying too hard to pass down a message. And while it’s climax is rewarding, it’s resolution lacks completion. Not that every story needs to be perfectly wrapped up with a bow, but it would definitely be more gratifying if we knew more about how some characters fared in the end. Or maybe Kuderna is considering a sequel? That would fit the YA genre model. And despite the minor pitfalls I described, Anoroc is an excellent story. Anyone interested in YA fantasy would do well to purchase a copy.

And if YA fantasy/science fiction repels you, consider that Kuderna confesses that growing up he was not keen on fiction, however, “As life went on, I not only realized escaping planet Earth for a moment was valuable, but that a stretching imagination could also be the best form of communication” (p. 268). And in Anoroc he has communicated a well-crafted, truthful, and engrossing story.