Zara Hanson & the Mystery of the Painted Symbol


Fiction - Science Fiction
246 Pages
Reviewed on 12/16/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite

Zara Hanson is employed by a clandestine organization entrusted with protecting our planet from alien invasion or interference. A sort of cross between Modesty Blaise and Bruce Lee, she takes on her latest mission with a certain degree of relish, looking forward to some action. She does not have long to wait, as almost immediately she is flung from a cargo plane and has to fight her assailant for a single parachute as they plummet toward the ground. Zara Hanson & The Mystery of The Painted Symbol by J.L. Haynes goes on to describe how she finds her alien contact for the mission in a British forest and after an interesting discourse on the existence of souls in mechanoids, the object of being and the nature of reality, they head off to the USA. Here, after several more combats, clashes and brawls, Zara teams up with Ansabe, her alien contact, and his brother Fez and together they head off to explore an ancient pyramid buried deep in the Alaskan tundra. But this is just the start of her adventures...

Zara Hanson & The Mystery of The Painted Symbol by J.L. Haynes is a fast-paced, adrenalin-fuelled caper where the pace never slackens. Jam-packed with action and a constant stream of original concepts and ideas, I found myself almost breathless at times trying to keep up with the torrent. The narrative is tight and inventive, even to the extent of introducing the idea of occasional music to some of the scenes by mentioning a well-known tune playing in the background. The concept gives the storyline an almost cinematic feel in places and ends with a neat twist to finish the tale. A great addition to the genre - sci-fi fans will not be disappointed.

K.C. Finn

Zara Hanson & the Mystery of the Painted Symbol is a work of science fiction penned for adults by author J. L. Haynes. Full of paranormal adventures, intriguing special investigations and moments of poignant self-discovery, this fantastic adventure is centered around the titular character, Zara. Working as a special agent for an agency whose sole purpose is to investigate mysterious and unexplained events, Zara is thrown into an adventure where the very fate of humanity hangs in the balance. Coupled with a brand new partner with unique abilities too, Zara must uncover conspiracies and get to the real truth of the investigation, however ugly it may be.

Mixing the genres of mystery, science fiction, paranormal, spiritual and a somewhat overall superhero vibe, this is an excellent and diverse take on the ‘only you can save the world’ trope. I was hooked very early in, delving into Zara and her incredible abilities, and I was delighted to see the world around her expanding and new information and mysteries of the universe being delivered in a credible and enjoyable way. Author J. L. Haynes has a real way with atmosphere and the creation of mood, which really helps to set the scene for those more poignant moments where Zara discovers truths about herself and the wider mystery plot at hand. The plot itself was extremely well handled and paced to deliver a satisfying story and conclusion. Overall, Zara Hanson & the Mystery of the Painted Symbol is a highly enjoyable read recommended for science fiction fans everywhere.

Rabia Tanveer

Zara Hanson & the Mystery of the Painted Symbol by J.L. Haynes is the story of a young woman as she discovers that to be able to save the world, she needs to remember who she is. As a specialist at an agency that excels at investigating mysterious and mind-boggling phenomena, Zara Hanson believes that there is nothing she cannot do. Going on an intergalactic journey would have been very exciting for her, but considering the fact that she has the weight of humanity on her shoulders is dampening her spirits just a little. Does that mean she will step back and not do anything? Of course not! But before she can save the world, she has to look deeper inside herself and see what she is made of. Does she have what it takes to really be a hero and save the world?

How refreshing it is to read a novel that doesn’t just focus on the end of the world but actually has an interesting plot. Zara is a true hero, not because she is literally a superwoman in this story, but because she is all of us. She is scared yet she puts up a strong front that fools everyone, but doesn’t fool her. She knew the moment she was presented with the task that it was going to be difficult, but she didn’t let that hold her back. She fights with everything she has; she gives it her all and makes sure that she is ready to face everything. She was surprisingly steady on her feet when faced with herself and her own shortcomings. I aspire to be like her, be mature and accepting. Zara Hanson & the Mystery of the Painted Symbol by J.L. Haynes is a fantasy of epic proportions because it reflects real struggles in a setting that is believable! Entertaining, action-packed and exceptionally well-crafted!

Lit Amri

"The Elb are running in judgment mode, currently deciding what you are—a destructive failure or a race with peace-building potential.” Humans will be judged, and Earth's fate hangs in the balance. Clandestine agent Zara Hanson receives her most critical task: save the world. She partners up with Ansebe, an alien who proves to be an extraordinary agent, one who shares the priceless knowledge of the universe with Zara. Furthermore, there's a mystery waiting to be unraveled. Will Zara be the one to do it? Zara Hanson & The Mystery of the Painted Symbol is a fascinating adventure on space, earth, and otherworldly dimensions by J. L. Haynes.

The world-building of the alien world is fascinating and intricate. Despite the 'doom and gloom for Earth' theme hovering in the background, J. L. Haynes's Zara Hanson & The Mystery of the Painted Symbol has funny moments and suspenseful action scenes that will evoke readers' sense of exciting heroic adventure. I particularly loved the skydiving fight - the first conflict in the mission that the protagonist Zara finds herself in. With all her skills and her backstory of learning a special kind martial arts in Beijing, it's fair to say she's a highly-regarded superagent. Still, she has her own flaws like anybody else, until she meets Ansebe and learns more about herself and the world. All in all, some readers may find it takes a while to get into the premise and plot, but the story's deft and intrinsic philosophy regarding the inner workings of the universe is no doubt a captivating read.

Christian Sia

Zara Hanson & the Mystery of the Painted Symbol by J.L. Haynes is a meld of science fiction and fantasy, a story that begins with a powerful myth, with beings like Lord Kae-Rai and The Elb's Celestial Witness embroiled in conflict. In the Pentagon, General James Campbell receives disturbing news about an unusual phenomenon and he is clearly worried about the welfare of the world and that of his grandson. He gives the mission to his protégée, Zara Hanson. Friends from the stars have sent credible and disturbing intelligence and observations indicate and confirm their greatest fears — just outside the Oort cloud, unusual activity is happening. Zara is the only skilled person who can investigate and she is not allowed to go with her partner. It is a dark mission. The fate of humanity is in the balance, and it all depends on Zara, but does she really have what it takes to accomplish such a perilous mission?

J.L. Haynes is a great storyteller and the novel reflects the work of a highly imaginative mind, filled with descriptions and images that are stunning, and neologisms that create an exciting world for readers to explore. I loved the character handling. From the beginning, readers are introduced to supernatural or alien characters with strong spiritual qualities, and then the protagonist. The author allows the background of Zara to come out as the relationship between her and her boss and her role in the agency deepens. The plot is ingenious, with surprises that are unpredictable. Zara Hanson & the Mystery of the Painted Symbol has the balance and entertaining character of a well-crafted novel. It is engaging and utterly transporting with a female protagonist that readers will root for.