Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review # 166: Exiled by J. R. Wagner

Description: (from
     James has never known an ordinary life. As long as he can remember, he and his family have been on the run—moving from place to place, never settling down, never growing roots. Now, just when he’s on the brink of manhood, the very thing his family has been trying to prevent tears him from all he has ever known and thrusts him into a place where he is powerless and alone.

     Bent on finding a way back, James must brave a place reserved for the worst of his kind. He quickly learns that the land itself poses a greater threat than its inhabitants and if he is to have any chance of returning, he must work with the very people he’s been raised to fear. 
     James has known magic since just after he was born. As a sorcerer, his skills are exceptional yet when he wakes in The Never, his abilities are gone. Armed with nothing but determination and the will to survive, he braves a land wrought with dangers, mysteries and temptations meant to ensnare both body and mind and prevent escape forever.

     After reading the book blurb and examining the atramentous, yet alluring cover art, I was ready to phase into the unfathomable world of The Never. The Exiled started out strong, J. R. Wagner's writing ability immediately apparent - his lambent language and imagery strewn across each page; however, after the first few 'flashbacks', I was more confused than engaged. The lines between past and present were unclear, and they did not seem to be in James' point of view, but recounted from a more omniscient perspective. I eventually got used to these 'transitions', they added to the complexity of the plot which I found very interesting, although I did not enjoy some of the stranger character relationships. With the time-changes came an influx of old and new character introductions from Jame's past and present as well as his parents' timeline. It took me a while to nail-down certain personalities and what parts they played. The relationship that perturbed me the most was seventeen year-old Jame's immutable fawning over the mid-twenty-something Kilani. Teens have crushes, understandable, but I did not find their bond realistic. The characters were well-developed physically and descriptively, unfortunately they were missing an emotional factor, making it hard for me to connect with them. Exiled took me longer than expected to read because of its hidden intricacies, I now understand why J. R. Wagner said that his obsession with LOST inspired him to write The Never Chronicles. I was a fan of that show too, until the constant back-and-forth story-line became daunting; hopefully some of the reader's questions will be answered in book two of the series - I would really like to figure out how everything plays out in the end. Overall, I found the book intriguing, but not as exciting as I would have hoped based on its description. An actual cliffhanger would have been appreciated... Recommended for teen and adult readers who enjoy a more challenging read - fans of  LOST included.

Rating: Bounty's Out (3/5)

*** I received this book from the author (JKSCommunications) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author: (from press release)

     J. R. Wagner was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania during a blizzard. Maybe it was this experience that destined him to love adventure. A competitive cyclist, triathlete, mountain biker and adventure racer, he once received a medal for saving a woman’s life during the kayaking section of an adventure race. He’s got a day job to keep him “grounded”; Wagner helps run his late father’s Downingtown, Pennsylvania floor-covering business. After graduating in Kinesiology from Arizona State University, he returned to Downingtown, where his creative fires were re-stoked by his two beautiful daughters and his wife, Lisa who Wagner endearingly considers his muse. It was during their trip to Maine he began writing Exiled. Visit him at or

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