188. Juggler in the Wind by Wim Coleman & Pat Perrin
Publication: ChironBooks (August 1, 2010), Paperback, 208pp / ISBN 1935178075
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Buy it!
Read: September 17-18, 2010
Summary from Amazon:
When a ragtag circus shows up in the town of Buchanan, Kansas, fourteen-year-old Randy Carmichael faces a deep mystery. Why is his alcoholic mother so troubled by the troupe s arrival? What does Circus Olympus mean to her past and to Randy s future? Voices summon him, a godlike figure appears in his dreams, and supernatural adversaries lay in wait for him as he embarks on a dangerous quest that will take him beyond mortal reality.
Juggler in the Wind has already been recognized for strong writing and a haunting story. It’s the fascinating first novel in The Wand Bearer Trilogy by award-winning authors Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin. The Wand Bearer Trilogy is at once an intimate coming-of-age story and a sweeping epic that is guaranteed to keep readers enthralled from beginning to end.
When I was offered this book for review from the publisher, they told me I’d probably like it even more than the other book I’ve reviewed, The Taker and the Keeper. To be honest, I was a little bit skeptical, but it sounded like a fun book and so I accepted their offer.
Well! Yeah, I like this one better than The Taker and the Keeper. I rated that one a rating equivalent to “buy it”– but THIS book is a “definitely buy it” rating. It’s better written, less bogged down with questionable historical stuff, and a little bit more adult. It’s not as EXCITING as The Taker and the Keeper and it’s more slow-moving, but it’s got a little more oomph to it that I liked.
(Maybe the real difference between The Taker and the Keeper and Juggler in the Wind is that the former is an MG book and the latter seems more like YA/teen. And since I tend to like YA books more than MG books…it does seem natural that I like Juggler in the Wind better. Right? Right.)
People have compared this book to the Percy Jackson series. That’s like saying Sabrina the Teenage Witch is comparable to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The difference between those two shows is that while they both have supernatural elements, they’re really entirely different shows– and so too is Juggler and Percy Jackson. Percy Jackson is an action/adventure series with an emphasis on the physical. Juggler is a journey of the soul. There’s a fight scene, but it’s a metaphysical fight that’s more about inner turmoil than outer. Juggler moves its plot forward through the internal growth of the protagonist, not through external violent forces, and I actually found that really refreshing.
Internal growth, however, means the book has to go slowly if it wants to be successful and realistic, and so Juggler is a little molasses-like. I’m not sure how well it’ll hold the attention of younger readers, but my second-best friend from middle school would have been a prime candidate, so I suppose it depends on the kid. I personally didn’t mind that it was slow– not much, anyway– because I could see the character growth (and I LOVE character growth) and knew that the bigger plot points would resolve themselves by the end of the series. You have to be patient with this book, I guess, and with the story. But it’s worth it!
For some reason Juggler kept reminding me of my teenage years, when I was into pagan stuff and read a lot about nature and the spirit and whatnot. It’s not a spiritual book, not in the more usual sense of spiritual, but it does promote introspection, self-evaluation, and knowing who you are on a more…a more basic level, maybe? Something like that. And that sort of thing is the sort of thing I associate with my teen years because that’s the same stuff I was reading and doing!
And I think it was really a good thing to have in a book, actually, especially when you compare Randy, who by the end knows much more about himself than he did at the beginning, and the Greek gods, who have spent so much time as other people they’ve forgotten who they really are.
To reiterate: it’s a good book! It’s slower than most YA books, and by the end not a lot is solved re:wth these Greek gods are doing in a circus with weird human names. I do wish it had been longer, if only to get a bit more plot in there. But I guess I must have been in a really good mood when I read Juggler in the Wind, because where normally I think slow plot and small developments would have annoyed me I was perfectly fine with it here.
If you’d like something a little more thoughtful and a little less dependent on fight scenes to move plot along, try Juggler in the Wind.
Other reviews: Charlotte’s Library
Be sure to check out the book’s official website, because there are lots of nifty extras like a study guide and info about the mythology used in the story!