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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Jon Ridley: The Beginning is a work of fiction in the science fiction and action-adventure sub-genres, and was penned by author Andrew P. Smith. Written for young adult audiences, the novel focuses on our titular character Jon, who faces immense difficulties at an early age when he is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. But Jon is armed with a powerful imagination and he, therefore, launches his life into a fantastical world where daily nightmares are transformed into adventurous challenges. Mythical beasts and powerful friendships are discovered along the way as the fight to overcome the forces of evil teaches important lessons about love, hate, and loss.
Author Andrew P. Smith has crafted a highly immersive fantasy world that any young adult and indeed many adult readers will want to dive straight into. The overarching idea of Jon and his illness, and utilizing fantasy in order to hang on and survive, is very inspiring, and it fills the narrative with a powerful sense of hope even when things look rough and difficult in the plot. I found the descriptive techniques really brought the different concepts, creatures, and fantasy elements to life, and the action scenes were well-paced to deliver some really exciting moments. The dialogue is where we find the poignant and emotive lessons of the novel being delivered, in a naturalistic form that makes them all the more valuable and central to the tale. Overall, I would definitely recommend Jon Ridley: The Beginning for classic fantasy fans looking for a meaningful and well-penned story.