The Baji Mantis

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
310 Pages
Reviewed on 05/07/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

In The Baji Mantis, a young adult fantasy novel by A. Joshua Chiatovich, Wu Liang is a young mantis who trains diligently to become a warrior in the village of Tang Lang Chu. With his best friends Li Xiao and Xu Pang, Liang explores the world past the stream when, one day, he stumbles upon a human settlement. He strikes up an unexpected friendship with a robed man. But upon his return, the villagers don't take kindly to his links with a human. The robed man soon begins to train Liang in the ways of the Baji fist with energy magic. However, after an impromptu attack on the robed man's people, Liang is captured and forced to fight other creatures. Meanwhile, Medog Bloodsuckers threaten the destruction of his village. Can he save his people?

If you're a fan of Kung Fu Panda movies, you will love The Baji Mantis. A. Joshua Chiatovich tells the captivating coming-of-age tale of a young warrior trying to make his mark on the world. This story highlights underlying themes of friendship, courage, and the resilient nature of the human spirit, which makes it possible for us to overcome overwhelming challenges. With an absorbing narrative following the adventures of a young mantis, Chiatovich introduces readers to the Chinese martial art of Baji fist. The training sessions between Liang and Shi Fu were some of my favorite parts of the book. I also immensely enjoyed the dynamic between Liang, Li Xiao, and Xu Pang. All in all, I found this to be a riveting fantasy tale. This is a must-read for readers who love hero origin stories!

K.C. Finn

Penned by author A. Joshua Chiatovich, The Baji Mantis is a work of fiction in the fantasy, cultural writing, and adventure genres. Aimed at the young adult reading audience, the action follows Wu Liang, a daring student at a warrior academy in China's oldest mantis village, who delves into taboo subjects involving humans, causing the village elders to question his loyalty. Forced to leave, Liang becomes a student of a human martial arts master, honing his skills and forging his own path as a warrior. But when faced with a choice between defending his village or embracing his newfound independence, Liang must decide where his loyalties truly lie. This exhilarating journey, filled with adventure and self-discovery, immerses readers in the vibrant world of martial arts and ancient traditions.

Liang's transformation from a curious student to a skilled warrior is both compelling and inspiring, showing the power of perseverance and determination. I loved the pacing of his emotional arc, which was woven alongside the different twists and challenges of the plot to show true growth in the face of adversity and create a fantastic ongoing tension. The dynamic relationships between characters, especially Liang and his human master, were penned with dialogue that definitely hits the target for the YA reader, offering authentic yet poignant expressions of emotion and self-discovery. As the plot unfolded, I found myself captivated by Liang's internal struggles and external challenges, rooting for him every step of the way. Overall, The Baji Mantis by A. Joshua Chiatovich is a gripping tale of courage and redemption that leaves a lasting impression, and I’d recommend it to fans of action-packed, emotive adventure everywhere.

Jennifer Ibiam

Wu Liang’s parents left when he was four years old, and by his ninth birthday, they hadn’t returned. Children in Liang’s village joined their parents’ businesses from the age of nine or started training at the martial arts school to become village warriors. Circumstances left Liang with no choice but to join the martial arts school with his best friends, Xiao and Pang. Liang excelled in his training, but he felt incomplete. He wanted to see what lay beyond his village of Tang Lang Chu and maybe find his parents. However, his first stop was in the land of humans, whom his mantis species feared because they were evil. He must contend with the good, bad, and ugly while prioritizing his life among the humans. Will he survive the trials and find his parents? The Baji Mantis by A. Joshua Chiatovich has the details.

The Baji Mantis by A. Joshua Chiatovich is about adventure, drama, fantasy, and animals. Think of the Justice League cartoon adapted into a novel, and this is it. The storytelling from an animal’s viewpoint had depth and captivated me. This book is a one-of-a-kind read. There are facets to this story as it explores themes like courage, loyalty, curiosity, envy, friendship, kindness, sacrifice, and good and evil. I noticed and picked lessons from supporting characters like Dong, Zhou Fan, and Elder Zhou as the author developed the characters with care. Liang was my favorite thought-provoking character. Was he loyal and kind? Yes. Did he love his friends and Nainai? Yes. Was he curious and maybe selfish? I think, yes. However, there was a uniqueness to his friendship with Pang and Xiao where they complemented each other with brains, physical strength, and speed. Everyone should read this novel because it offers valuable lessons.