Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: Zan-Gah, A Prehistoric Adventure

Zan-Gah, A Prehistoric Adventure, by Allan Richard Shickman
Published: July 15, 2007
Publisher: Earthshaker Books
ISBN: 9780979035708
Pages: 148
Source: Provided by Earthshaker Books for review
Series: Zan-Gah #1

Zan-Gah, seeking his lost twin brother in a savage prehistoric world, encounters adventure, suffering, conflict, captivity, and final victory. In three years hero passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership among his people. Themes include survival, brotherhood, cultures, gender roles, psychological trauma, and nature's wonders and terrors. This is the electronic version of Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, which has been awarded Mom's Choice Gold Medal for Series, the Eric Hoffer Notable Book Award, and was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year.

Okay, I realize I'm being ridiculous when I nit-pick on this specific aspect of the novel, so I'm getting it out of the way first. There were a lot of exclamation points. I mean---a lot. I don't know about you, but when I see an exclamation mark, I hear yelling in my head. So I constantly felt like the narrator was yelling at me. Like I said, ridiculous, I know. :p

Moving on to the important stuff:
Zan-Gah is a powerful story about a boy who goes on a treacherous journey in search of his twin, who has been missing for some time. Along this journey, Zan-Gah is forced to fight for survival on many different occasions. There is action from beginning to end, though for a middle grade novel, I would have liked to see more dialogue. But given his circumstances, it wasn't really a possibility.

When Zan-Gah finally reaches his destination, I was saddened by the story. Dael is clearly affected deeply by what he has gone through, and my heart ached for him. This was the only time in the entire story that I felt any emotion, which is most likely a problem that lies within me, not the book. I'm curious to see how the next novel plays out, because I'm sure it will be centered around Dael and the issues he's suffering now. 

I read a lot of this aloud to my 2 and 4 year olds, and they seemed to really enjoy it. A lot of times, I'll read whatever book I'm reading at the time to them, and they look at me like "Where are the pictures?" With Zan-Gah, they genuinely listened. I think this would be a fantastic novel for a parent to read and discuss with their children.  Or a middle grade teacher to read and discuss with their students. The story is powerful, and engaging.

I'm unsure of whether or not I'll be reading the sequel. I'd like to see where Dael's story goes, but I think this is better suited for my little brother than myself. It's difficult for me to read and review middle grade novels with the targeted audience in mind. Which is why I generally don't accept MG. I don't regret accepting this one though, and I think people of all ages could appreciate it in some way!

4 Stars


  1. I enjoyed the series, and I think the author has a great writing voice, but I knew I wouldn't re-read this books. I feel like I got everything I needed from them the first time around, you know? The second book was def better than the first though! Great review, Amanda! :)

  2. Thanks, Amanda for a really appreciative review. I am glad you liked it. I think of Zan-Gah as a YA novel for readers age 11 and above. The sequel, Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, is a somewhat older book—12 or 13 and above. I hope you read it.
    Since a few reviewers have faulted me for my explanation points, I have to give the criticism some consideration. To some, they are like red capes to a bull! Admitted, they have little place in an objective research paper, but this is emotional literature. They are guides to your feelings. "Run to the fire department." conveys something quite different than "Run to the fire department!" The purpose of (!) is to indicate a forceful utterance or strong feeling. Sometimes I simply want to indicate surprise. I use them for outcries and...well...exclamations. The mark denotes emotion—not shouting at you—maybe shouting TO you. Anyway, you did a nice job, and I will try to be more careful in the next book.

  3. Aha! "I love comments (!) They make my heart happy (!) See. You do it too.

    Is you heart happy now? Mine too! Here's another comment: The third novel of the Zan-Gah book series, Dael and the Painted People, is nearly finished. Watch for this book for young adults this summer at the new web address:

    Please pay us a visit.

    Allan R. Shickman

  4. Allan, I think there's a difference between using a couple of exclamation points when the situation calls for it (read: using them to reinforce a point your character is trying to make), and abusing them to death.

    Either way, you got a 4 star review, so I don't see why you felt the need to lecture Amanda. She is certainly not stupid, and I think she understands why anyone would use them in the first place. Lecturing her makes you come off as a pompous ass, which I'm sure, you weren't intending to come off as (but you kind of did). Should have just left it at thank you.


<3 zee comments.