Family Portrait

Young Adult - Fantasy - Urban
588 Pages
Reviewed on 09/09/2023
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Woodland: Family Portrait is a work of fiction in the urban science fiction, adventure, and interpersonal drama subgenres. It is intended for the young adult reading audience and was penned by author Art Lionson. In the year 2043, the Woodland brothers, already grappling with the challenges of urban life, face an unexpected crisis when their younger sister, Mia, falls seriously ill. Seeking solutions, they unwittingly step into a complex web of events triggered by a seemingly simple job. As they navigate the intricacies of their choices, a hidden undercurrent of manipulation and inevitability begins to unravel. The story highlights their unyielding devotion to core human values amidst adversity, as well as the unwavering friendship of their loyal dog, Spark.

Author Art Lionson has crafted a highly compelling work that really taps into its emotional core of family bonds and the lengths we would go to for the ones we love. The narrative weaves together action-packed sequences with vivid cinematic descriptions, unexpected twists, and realistically narrated human dramas, all centered around themes of justice, camaraderie, and resilience. Lionson's storytelling captures the essence of human emotions, depicting the Woodland brothers' journey through pain, loss, and anxiety. I especially enjoyed the dialogue exchanges between the brothers, each showcasing unique attitudes to the issue at hand but in compatible harmony to get the job done. The book explores the bonds of family, friendship, and the pursuit of justice in a gripping narrative that holds readers' attention until the very last page. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Woodland: Family Portrait to fans of action-packed YA urban drama everywhere.

Alma Boucher

Woodland: Family Portrait is a coming-of-age story by Art Lionson. Jason and Eddie Woodland lived with their parents and two younger siblings, Cody and Mia. Even though the Woodland family was facing difficulties, they were still functioning as a unit. In a world where the odds were stacked against them, Eddie and Jason were just ordinary individuals trying to get by. Their younger sibling Cody was mixing with the wrong crowd and made a mistake. Eddie and Jason were forced to bear the consequences of the decisions and deeds of others while changing the course of their own lives and those around them when they tried to fix Cody’s error. What price would the Woodland brothers have to pay to prevail, survive, and maintain their honor and dignity?

Woodland: Family Portrait by Art Lionson is a coming-of-age story that explores the lengths one will go to in order to protect those they love. I was hooked from the start. The plot was exciting and engaging, and a few sub-plots were intertwined. The story was fast-paced and jam-packed with action. There was no way I could predict what would happen next. The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat, and I turned the pages as fast as I could. I could not put it down. I was too afraid I would miss something. The characters had authentic backgrounds. They were introduced in such a way that it was easy to get to know them. The story was brilliantly written and finished with a thrilling scene that was a big surprise.

Olga Markova

Woodland: Family Portrait by Art Lionson takes us to the year 2043. Jason, his younger brother Eddie, their younger siblings, and their hard-working parents live in a poor community in the U.S. Robots are doing many jobs previously done by humans, and jobs are scarce. Desperate unemployed people frequently resort to riots. Mia, the family’s youngest child, is suffering from a rare genetic disease. The need to pay for the medicines to prolong Mia’s life unites Jason’s family and they take on every job they can. Before long, unmerited disasters engulf the family. Jason discovers drugs in the bag of his younger brother Cody. Jason and Eddie lose their jobs in a chop shop, and an odd delivery job they take up lands them in prison. What will happen next?

Woodland by Art Lionson is a gripping thought-provoking action thriller. The author deftly exposes topical vices prevalent in modern society such as the fate of the less-privileged in a world of advanced technology and dubious crime control methods. Central to the story is a controversial early-release program for convicts, which turns them into mercenary fighters. Villainy, deception, and graphic combat scenes abound and drive the plot. Conversely, the emphasis on the virtues of kindness, love, care, friendship, and perseverance makes this story a highly satisfying read. This novel is a serious work and an outspoken cautionary tale about how easily life can transform into an unbearable disaster and illustrates the high price of redemption. I found this story intriguing due to its compelling depth in the portrayal of social issues. This page-turner will appeal most to fans of hard-boiled thrillers.

Asher Syed

Woodland: Family Portrait by Art Lionson puts Eddie and his brother Jason in prison after a botched assignment in the year 2043. Eddie, imprisoned and engulfed in despair, recalls his sacrifices for his sister Mia as he grapples with the harsh realities of prison life. Eddie's cellmate Pete has a chilling theory about staged inmate conflicts, claims that gain credibility as events hint at a prison system agenda. Eddie and Jason exchange plans and Eddie becomes part of a rigorous training program, discovering camaraderie and purpose. The lives of multiple inmates intersect and both Eddie's and Jason's lives evolve again amid hostile attackers and dangerous assignments. Stranded in a desolate area, they await orders from the Center, where higher-level agents arrive, changing the mission's dynamics.

All of the characters in Art Lionson's family crime saga, Woodland, and there is a huge and diverse cast of them, are developed so thoroughly that the Woodland universe could include prequels, sequels, and even offshoots with different players. The family connection and dedication to the people Eddie and Jason love is a heartening aspect. Spark, Eddie's dog who is what my daughter would call a “ride or die” best friend, was my favorite character, which I know sounds bizarre, but the important role he plays and the sacrifices made are some of Lionson's best character development work. The storyline is sometimes let down by choppy prose and uncomfortable syntax but I did not find this to be too much of a barrier, especially as the book progresses. Lionson is excellent at building tension and I look forward to seeing where he takes us next following a cliffhanger ending. Recommended.

Jamie Michele

Woodland: Family Portrait by Art Lionson is a dystopian novel set in 2043, where brothers Jason and Eddie Woodland struggle financially, mostly due to the care necessary for their ill sister. Their neighborhood faces demolition, their auto jobs halt, and the disappearance of Cody leads to a drug discovery. Jason resorts to a risky task that ends in disaster and an unjust trial, and both Jason and Eddie are separated and sent to prison. Jason does bond with cellmate Josh, but Eddie's imprisonment overwhelms him. Against a changing world and social divides, Eddie learns of sinister prison motives from his celly Pete. As the stakes are raised for each of the brothers, violence and strategic revenge are overshadowed by rumors and a stabilization program. It turns out, there are worse things than prison.

Woodland: Family Portrait by Art Lionson ends on a cliffhanger with the promise of being the first in a series, and with no shortage of imagination from its author, there are many directions the futuristic thriller can go. Lionson builds a world that resembles our own despite some critical advances in technology but is close enough to visualize given that we are only talking about a time difference of twenty years. I love prison drama and Lionson does a good job of breathing life into it. A reader would probably not expect that the brutality of prison on a daily basis could be eclipsed, but Lionson proves with the transition into a training regime that he has more than a few small twists in store. From a literary standpoint, the prose reflects some distinct linguistic characteristics that may not be indicative of a native English speaker, but the premise is good and I think other readers will agree.