Friday, January 10, 2014

Review - Beyond Disbelief by Andrew Dzeguze

For 14 year old Brett Shelldon, the line between illusion and reality has always been clear. Illusions are the magic tricks he does with cards, rings and other props. Reality is a Mom who works all the time, a Dad who is too distracted to notice Brett, and his little sister Sarah, who he loves but whose mercurial temper can make living with her a real pain. Not to mention a speech impediment so bad Brett hates talking to anyone and does his magic act in silence. On the whole, Brett prefers illusion, where he can be in control for at least a few minutes.

When a skull faced man dressed all in black shows up at Brett’s show, though, any thought of control is lost. That is a minor shock compared to finding Brett’s mentor, Mr. Green, dead on the floor of his magic shop hours later, with the same stranger hovering over the corpse. Over the next week, Brett will confront betrayal, deceit, the disappearance of Sarah and a threat to his life. He’ll come face to face with a maniac named Jack White and his killer minion Speck, who wants to conquer the world, starting with Brett’s hometown of Portland.

Brett’s only weapons in this fight are his wits. But according to his new guide, the aptly named, enigmatic Mr. Black, those are all Brett needs. Brett’s control over illusions, which goes farther than he ever knew, can actually alter reality. In embracing this ability, Brett finds power, but also dangers he would never have considered a week before.

Beyond Disbelief by Andrew Dzeguze tell the story of Brett.  Brett is a young man who has trouble making friends.  He isn't a bad kid or anything, but he has a fairly wicked speech impediment that he is very self conscious of.  Luckily for him he is able to escape his own self doubt when he performs his magic routine.  There is a small club in Portland where kids can learn simple magic tricks from experienced stage magicians and Brett is a member.  With his dedication to his illusions he would easily be a star if he had a bit more charisma.  One day after a performance by his club he heads downtown to the magic shop that is his home away from home.  Mr. Green the stores proprietor and the president of the magic club was absent from the show and Brett is curious as to why.  Mr. Green is one of the two people that he actually considers a friend so when he gets to the shop and sees the door broken off the hinges he is extremely concerned.  He decides to go in anyway and sees his friend lying on the floor with a strange man who he noticed at the show standing over him.  The strange man introduces himself as Mr. Black and convinces Brett to leave the scene with him so they can both avoid trouble, as they drive away Mr. Black explains that Brett is a very special boy who may have the power to change to world around him.  In other words magic is real and Brett may have real skill.  The story unfolds following Brett as he learns more about his talent and tries to figure out who would hurt Mr. Green.

The was an enjoyable YA book that only had one major hiccup.  After the characters get introduced and Mr. Black drops Brett off to get his bike and go home there is some detail about how secluded Brett's house is.  I felt that this was a bit overdone.  I was left with a pretty good image of the unique area that Brett lived in, but I felt that there was a lot more information given than was really needed to express the point.  Other than that the  book was pretty darn good.  I felt bad for Brett being almost forced to be a quiet kid and when his parents are shown to be pretty absent in his life (his mother away for business a lot and his dad just pretty scatterbrained) he really has no one he can confide in.  His sister seems to be a pretty strange kid talking like a character from an old detective film more than a normal 8 year old girl.  She also has an amazing way of manipulating her father to get exactly what she wants and with his problems expressing himself Brett has limited ability to affect the outcome of any argument.

The system of magic used in the book is an interesting one.  It seems to revolve mainly around simply concentrating on an affect and having it take place.  There are various specialties of magic such as memory, emotional, loyalty, and physical manipulations to name some.  People also have varying levels of power, but the more people that believe in you the more powerful effects you can have.

The story is told focused entirely on Brett and a lot of his character development takes place inside his head.  When he does speak his impediment comes through making it clear why more dialogue isn't used.   I will say that as Brett develops his power his speech show subtle signs of improvement and it is explained that if he learns he can eventually make it go away altogether.  I really liked the point of view that the story takes place from as Brett is an interesting character and it's nice to see what he is thinking when all of the craziness is going on.  There are also a few spots of comedy that were well done with Brett struggling with becoming a man.

Overall I would say that this is a good book for ages 13+ especially if the person is interested in magic as there is a good amount of info on the tricks within.    The book also had a good ending where the story contained was solidly wrapped up, but the way into the next was presented to continue to attract interest.  I'm not a fan of cliff hanger endings so a good wrap-up always scores points with me.

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