Phoenix by Jeff Stone

Genre: MG

Also posted at Arroz Con Leche

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsis: It is 350 years after the events of The Five Ancestors. Phoenix Collins lives in Indiana with his grandfather who is teaching him kung fu. But Phoenix's real love is mountain bike racing. When unsettling events reveal that his grandfather is not only one of the legendary five Cangzhen monks, but also almost 400 years old, Phoenix must race the clock if he is going to keep his beloved ancestor alive. Traveling to China, he meets an intriguing young woman who is a talented biker and a terrific mechanic. She offers to help him, but can she be trusted?

I totally love Jeff Stone’s writing style. I have been a fan of his ever since I read his Five Ancestors Series with my son. The Five Ancestors is the tale of how five orphans save China using the skills taught to them by the monks who have raised them. Each one goes their separate ways after their temple is destroyed, each one having their own book to take us along their mega adventure. I was immediately drawn to the action packed books which feature individual animal kung fu fighting styles and that were also full of history and culture. Introducing my son to this series was my way of teaching him some Chinese culture and it truly worked out.

Needless to say I was ecstatic to hear that Jeff Stone would be starting a new series based on the Five Ancestors. Phoenix was born and so I just had to read it. This book takes place 350 years after the events in the original series. Phoenix’s grandfather happens to be one of the original ancestors who has managed to stay alive via a special supplement that he takes every day. Phoenix is a 13 year-old biker prodigy.

When the special supplement ends up being stolen, Grandpa sends Phoenix on his way to China to retrieve some so that he may stay in Phoenix’s life for a few more years.

Overall I enjoyed being back in this world again but I also had some mixed feelings about some things I read.

*As an adult, I thought the amount of bike talk was overdone a bit much but think a kid between the ages of 8 and 13 might enjoy all the bike talk.

*I found it strange that a 13 year old would be given permission to go to China all on his own in search of the supplement. It wasn’t so much the traveling there but the fact that once he was in China he had to travel throughout China on his own without adult supervision.

*My experience has been that the Chinese people living in the United States are very much traditional and hold on to their cultural traditions a lot tighter than many other groups of people. I found it strange that Grandpa, who had lived in China for almost 400 years and only the last 13 years in the US, hadn’t integrated Chinese, Mandarin or Cantonese, into Phoenix’s life to the point where he was fluent. I know that not all people speak the language of the people that came before them but this would have been Grandpa’s primary language prior to even being in Phoenix’s life. It just didn’t make much sense.

Looking beyond all that, you will find an interesting world full of mysteries, lots of action, with great characters that will appeal to the younger middle grade crowd.

ARC was provided by Random House Books for Young Readers via NetGalley.

View all my reviews


Post a Comment