Ves Asirin, an orphaned and introverted boy with a complicated memory loss disorder, wins a trip to the TOWER OF PARLEN MIN, the home of the wealthiest inventor of the time, Jacobius Trent. There, with 19 other children, he must compete in the Sword Challenge--a series of intricate puzzles and daring tasks--for a prize of $12 million. As dazzling, glorious and liberating as the Tower seems to be for him, Ves finds that it keeps a dark and secret history that he has been unknowingly connected to for over 150 years, a secret that will define his future and destiny ... if he can escape the shadow: a powerful and seemingly unstoppable supernatural serial killer.
My first idea of this book, from the blurb, was that it was like a darker, more fantastic version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I don't know why, but that's just what I got from the synopsis. It isn't what I got from the book, instead, I got an exciting and thrilling story that I really enjoyed.
Firstly, let me get the bad stuff out of the way. I didn't like the writing style at the start - it was like a voiceover introducing our main character and I didn't really like this, in fact, if the whole book had been written this way, I don't think I could have finished it. Thankfully, the narrative changed after the prologue to a simpler third person format and I prefered this writing style.
I also struggled to connect with the characters - Ves is unique and stands out because he is an introverted person, which was a great idea on Xell's part, but for me it meant that I couldn't connect and relate to him, I also thought that he was a bit of a jerk. I also struggled to connect with the other kids as there were too many of them and they were all introduced very quickly so I struggled to figure out who was who and grasp onto their different characters. Tiny problems though!
Now the good, and theres more of this, I promise. Matt Xell's writing style is very unique. His writing is filled with descriptions and information that really make the reader seem like part of the story. It also helps the reader realise the amount of planning that Xell must have done to have created such a detailed world with such involved characters and fantastic settings. Xell describes the action very well as well, the fast pacing of the challenges, the amazing description of the sword fights, wow!
I also loved the relationships between all of the kids, while as a reader I didn't connect with the characters, I really enjoyed seeing their interactions, how they help each other solve puzzles - they're against eachother for this prize but really need to help each other out to win, it made some pretty unusual interactions.
I totally loved the character development we see in Ves, he goes into the Tower as a mild young boy, albeit one with a lot of issues, and by the end he's a much stronger character, this was great to watch and I really enjoyed it.
Overall, Tower of Parlen Min was an action packed fantasy which had a few narrative and character issues that bring the rating down. I really enjoyed the story itself and Xell really brings his great world to life!
Overall rating B
Stand alone/series: First in a series
Book obtained via: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review