Young Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy
Joshua’s Tree, N. W. Harris’ first novel, is a great romp, containing a fantastic kick ass heroine and an unlikely hero who is transported to the future. It is set in a strange landscape, with terrifying cannibalistic creatures and it contains intervention from on high and non-stop adventure. There is also a budding romance and a plot that involves both personal growth and self-sacrifice.
In Joshua’s Tree, after a fall from his skateboard, seventeen year old Joshua wakes up naked in a strange and frightening world, where he is attacked and kidnapped by menacing creatures. Before the creatures can reveal their evil intent, he is rescued by a sword wielding female warrior, Nadia, astride a strange beast. Nadia, whose village and family have been destroyed by the sweepers, the terrifying creatures that have Joshua in their clutches, is convinced that Joshua is the saviourof her world, as foreseen in a prophecy. Joshua has no option but to accompany her on a bizarre and dangerous journey, where he learns that to return to his own world he must find the strength within himself to overcome his fears and avenge Nadia’s people by executing The Father, the creator of the canniabalistic sweepers who threaten the lives of all on this world.
Nadia is a character that I sometimes long to be in my imagination – a strong, self-controlled and skilled warrior, who takes no c*** from anyone and does not hesitate to go in for the kill with her sword and dagger, a figure which brought to my mind a younger version of Xena, the warrior princess or Lara Croft! She does have her vulnerabilities however, and these are revealed as the novel progresses. By contrast Josh is an unlikely hero, more of a thinker, not a natural warrior and he has zero confidence when it comes to girls, especially those as attractive as Nadia. He is grateful to Nadia for being his protector in this strange world and for helping him to adjust to the life of a warrior, but he resents being reliant on her. Although desperate to go home, he sometimes feels that he has a connection to the world and has growing feelings for Nadia. I loved how Josh grew in stature physically and mentally throughout, becoming if not yet an equal to Nadia in terms of her fighting skills at least complementing her with his skill at strategy.
Much of the novel focuses on the hero and heroine, their growing relationship and the transformation of Joshua from 21 century teenager into a warrior worthy to fulfil a prophecy. Although Nadia is attracted to Josh, she wants to keep him at a distance so that they do not become distracted from their quest as so much is at stake. Josh is initially both attracted to her strange beauty and resentful of her – she is part of the alien world that is keeping him from going home and she seems superior to him in every way, a true warrior, whereas he sees himself as puny and weak. There are many misunderstandings between them as the plot develops and leads Joshua to his destiny, as they struggle with their feelings for each other. There is also blood and gore a plenty, with innards and brains being spilt and limbs torn apart. The plot contains many twists and turns, with a cliff hanger at the end, which I am so wanting to know how it can possibly be resolved in future instalments! Will Joshua return home if he survives? Will he want to? Will he have a choice? And what of Nadia and the other characters and the future of this world as it hangs in the balance?
The author clearly has a strong imagination to create such a diverse future world, where some creatures are genetically engineered, similar, but so different from our own. It is a world of extreme landscapes, which blends futuristic technology with elements of past cultures on Earth. The novel is very much a coming of age story as well as a romance, but it is also more than this, addressing issues of personal growth and destiny for Josh (and Nadia too) as they are both subjected to a series of increasingly more terrifying tests of endurance and sanity, which allows them to grow and develop, but which puts a stain on their relationship. For me the novel has an almost mystical quality and the strongly drawn and well rounded characters also represented some major archetypes: Josh is the unlikely hero/saviour; Nadia the warrior; The Father, the evil creator/scientist, and there is even the wise man/spirit guide, the Sensei, who appears sporadically throughout.
Joshua’s Tree is a fantastic, read, which will keep you glued to the text until you have reached the end. I strongly recommend it to fans of sci-fi/fantasy adventure, who like some romance in their tale, with a thought provoking and action packed plot.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
I received this book for free from Story Cartel in exchange for my unbiased review.
Cover art by Marion Sipe www.marionsipe.blogspot.com