Monday, August 15, 2016

Review: The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles

Purchase: Amazon / B&N

Title: Kingdom of Oceana
Author: Mitchell Charles
Publisher: Butterhorse Media
Publication Date: November 27, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

*I received a free copy of this book from the publicist in exchange for an honest review*


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28129039-the-kingdom-of-oceana
 
Five centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic. When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise. As warring factions collide for control of Oceana, it sparks an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers that threatens to erupt-just like Mauna Kea, the towering volcano. With the help of his ancestral spirit animals, his shape shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must overcome his own insecurities, a lifetime of sibling rivalry, and a plague of cursed sea creatures brought forth by the tiki's spell. Can peace be restored to the kingdom? Can Prince Ailani claim his rightful place as the future king of Oceana? Only one can rule.

“While the book is fiction, it is heavily influenced by the rich and beautiful Hawaiian myths, legends, locales, and culture.  Many locations in the story are inspired by real places in Hawaii,” says Mitchell.

The Kingdom of Oceana takes readers on a fun and exciting adventure, with big wave surfing, fire walking, and shark taming, while also being educational and bringing to light many environmental and social issues, like ocean conservation.



Hawaii is one of those places I've always wanted to visit, but admittedly I didn't know much about it until reading The Kingdom of Oceana. I know it's a state, that the word aloha can be used for hello or goodbye, and that the land was formed from volcanic activity. Literally, most of the exposure I've had to the islands are through movies like Lilo & Stitch and 50 First Dates. Yeah I know, that's pretty sad.



The author's beautiful way of describing the setting made me feel like I was there and I learned a lot through the novel and corresponding study guides. I even learned more about the language, so now when my husband makes me mad me I can call him an omo and he'll be none the wiser. Sorry honey!

All of the characters were really well developed and I enjoyed the underlying theme of sibling rivalry. Of course, the conflict between Prince Nahoa and Prince Ailani went far beyond the usual brotherly quarrel. Nahoa just assumed he would be king because he was born first, but he didn't have any of the qualities that make a good leader; he was too arrogant, prideful, and not entirely dependable. Ailani really took to heart their culture and the teachings from his father and the Kahuna (a holy priest or sorcerer), and proved to be brave, kind, and strong. 

I'm a sucker for romance, so I was excited by the introduction of Princess Momi from Pearl Island. This was another source of strain between Ailani and Nahoa, because they were both immediately smitten with her. I loved that she was such a free spirit and had a passion for adventure. It was hard to know if it would lead anywhere, since her father, King Lako, was of questionable ethics and did not seem opposed to going to war in a quest for ruling not only Pearl Island but the Great Island as well. 

There are quite a few unfamiliar Hawaiian words introduced, but the author made it very easy to identify them while reading by including foot notes. There is also a glossary of all of these words at the end, so you can always reference that as well. As I mentioned before, there are also study guides available that give a crash course in everything from the mythology and culture of Hawaii to geographical and climate information. They include some very interesting information and intriguing pictures, as well as discussion questions and a quiz to gauge what you have learned. 

Right from the beginning I was enthralled by The Kingdom of Oceana, and thought about how much I wished a novel like this could have been part of our required reading in middle or high school. It would have held my attention a lot more than the other books we were forced to read, that's for sure. The writing was smooth, the entire novel was elegantly worded, and while the author did use a lot of descriptive phrases to paint a picture for the readers, it was beautiful and I didn't feel at all like it was overdone. I was sad when I reached the final page, but the good news is that this is to be a series! I'm not sure if book two will center around the same characters, but I am excited to see what author Mitchell Charles comes up with next!


About the Author

Mitchell Charles’ love of the ocean and its miraculous creatures began at the age of 12 when his father taught him to SCUBA dive. From his first adventure 50 feet (15 meters) beneath the Caribbean Sea he was hooked.  He has been involved in the Oceanic Society, America’s first non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, established in 1969.

Mitchell’s inspiration for The Kingdom of Oceana was born of exploring the spectacular coastline, lush valleys, and vibrant coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands. On these excursions, he imagined what Hawaii was like hundreds of years ago. Before Captain Cook arrived from England. Before the golf courses and hotels. Before the ukulele and the Mai Tai became icons of Hawaiian culture. He dreamed of a time when the islands were an undiscovered magical paradise.

These days, Mitchell divides his time between Southern California and Hawaii. He has two teenage children and a dog named Magic.

Mitchell is currently working on the second book in the Kingdom of Oceana series, The Legend of the Nine Sacred Pearls. For more information, visit http://kingdomofoceana.com/

Readers can connect with Mitchell on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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