Monday, April 29, 2013

The Last Martin: A Review

Title: The Last Martin
Series: Stand-alone
Author: JonathanFriesen
Genre: Tween Magical Realism/Humor

Book Trailer:

A middle school boy must figure out how to break a family curse before the next Martin is born . . . killing him.

Rating: Craft—5, Content—3, Overall—4.0 out of 5 stars

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Last Martin:

I was born dead.

Lani adds stupid and scrawny, but my little sister wasn’t there. Mom was the only witness and she owns the tale. She loves to tell the story—usually on spaghetti night—of an evil umbilical cord that coiled like a python around my neck. I came out purply-gray. Silent. Still.

Dr. Underland’s quick hands untangled me. She whacked and squeezed and inflated my limp lungs. But my wrinkled skin turned cold, and soon the doctor conceded to Death. “I’m so sorry.” She shook her head, held me up for the light to glimmer off wet, raisined skin. “It’s been too many minutes.”

Mom pursed her lips and nodded. “Of course it has.” For months, Elaina Boyle prepared herself for this moment—the one when disaster would strike. She knew I would die.

“I fear this was meant to be.”

Mom always pauses here for dramatic effect. She reaches over the table and tousles my curly hair, hard. My glasses break free from their perch on my nose and fall lens-down into the spaghetti sauce.

Mom doesn’t notice. She’s in her glory throughout this tragic epic. “Dead. Limp. Lifeless.” She perks up. “Another meatball, Martin?”

The Craft: The Last Martin has been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read, for a while now. And I’m glad I finally made it to this book.

The premise, a family curse that permits only one Martin at a time, could have easily given this tale a dark, even creepy tone. But while there are many poignant moments, The Last Martin is actually a rollicking adventure. Quirky, larger-than-life characters dominate the plot. Humor riddles the story, including some laugh-aloud moments. And underlying tension keeps the pages turning.

The Content: The Last Martin is one of those books where God is more a director than an actor. Yet His fingerprints are present, especially in the strong themes woven throughout: learning to live fully and without fear; the power of words; the effects of gratitude; loving family despite their . . . uniqueness.

As for other topical concerns, there is no sexual content or language. The supernatural element is restricted to the curse, and while Martin pulls off a couple questionable stunts, he is properly reprimanded in due time.

Summary: The Last Martin is a funny and poignant read that is over far too soon! Recommended for tweens to adults.

Rating: Craft—5, Content—3, Overall—4.0 out of 5 stars

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