I first learned of S. Shane Thomas through the Science Fantasy Hub, a landing platform for fans of the indie writing community. Thomas is an enthusiastic supporter of independent authors and I enjoy reading through his collection of thoughtful reviews. I have discovered a lot of great works through his website, including books written by Thomas himself.
Thomas’s writing delves into the whimsical worlds of archaeological fantasy. The Anki Legacies explore the influence of ancient aliens on early humanity, culminating in LARC (the League of Atlantis Reborn Colonies) who reverse engineer technology from the lost city of Atlantis in order to explore space. That sentence alone convinced me to read the first book in the series, entitled Monkeyboy.
Before we begin, new readers should be aware that the Anki Legacies are geared towards a younger audience. There is a playfulness to the story that is super charming. We all have a bumbling kid inside us and this book was written for them. The humor is quirky, the action is over the top, and the banter is best heard through the mind of a preteen. This is a sprightly adventure, so don’t let your adult brain cheat you out of some lighthearted fun.
Monkeyboy is the story of Han, a humanoid hybrid who acquires special powers after eating a magic stone. A quest ensues to find more stones, initially from a selfish desire to relieve his loneliness (by converting his cousins so they can “be like me”). However, his motivations shift to altruism after learning that a nefarious faction is searching for them too. It’s a great lesson for younger readers, one that Thomas manages to weave into the narrative without coming across as preachy (a major gripe that I have with most middle grade books).
Han sets off to save his home planet Nibiru from the evil Rakshasa. Joining him on the quest is a merry band of friends. Wisp is a pink cloud who emotes through morphs and colors (she is also Han’s best mate). Sita is a rabbit-eared alien girl with strawberry blonde hair. Rounding out the motley crew is a mantis monk named Cray.
Despite the mishmash of personas, I think Wisp steals the show. Her interactions with Han are sweet, comical, and often swing into the realms of epic cuteness. Thomas definitely knows how to capture the interactions of youth in a warm and kindhearted way. In addition, he gives the characters agency without downplaying their decisions as childish or unwise. This allows the action to unfold organically, instead of just bouncing from one tired lecture to the next. Two thumbs up, Mr. Thomas.
The fight scenes were also a highlight for me. Monkeyboy is packed with cartoon-like martial arts that cannot help but evoke scenes from Kung Fu Panda. This is intentional, of course, and the manner by which Thomas describes the action will have you grinning ear-to-ear.
Monkeyboy is a fun book that I can recommend to all readers, but especially to youngsters. It’s chock full of zany action and youthful humor, perfect for a lazy afternoon.
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