“The Guardians Crest” is the third book in the “Guardians of Zion” series, and like the previous book, this particular volume makes the most sense if read in order, so you know the players etc. If you haven’t read the first two books, go do that now and then come back to this review, as there might be some mild spoilers for those books lurking in this review. Now, as is customary, the author starts the book with an introduction that 1. Kind of reminds the reader where the heroes left off and 2. Tells you a bit more of what this book is about and a little reasoning as to why Chrobak choose to start the novel the way he did: going back to when Thomas was first discovering his faith and powers. This time, however, we’re focusing on his little sister’s experiences, and the author also explains why he chose to include some of the demons this time. Normally, I’m not a fan of introductions like that because I don’t want someone to tell me what I’m about to read, but, for this book, I appreciated it because it was necessary for one very important reason: we don’t visit Thomas and where book two left off until about half way through this novel.
I know there will be mixed reactions to something like that, not following up on a major cliffhanger until much later in a book, but Chrobak really hits his stride when he’s writing the demons that plague Julianna. The characters, the tension… Chrobak sets all that up wonderfully this time around. Plus, it finally provides a bit of insight as to why Thomas and his super powered Guardians are important to begin with. All of which comes together at the end, setting up the framework for what is going to happen and why it’s so vital come the fourth book. So while at times this felt more like reading the “slow” book that comes in the middle of a trilogy in terms of set up and backstory, there was a great deal more action keeping it far from a slow read! But, it is true that most of the book is still focused on things covered, even if but peripherally, from the previous books rather than moving the central plot of the series as a whole forward.
That being said, when the central plot does pick up again, it moves forward with a bang! Thomas, Gemma, and Theresa know they need to find the rest of the Guardians—there will be 12 in all—in order to be ready to face the final battle: Good vs. Evil, Heaven vs. Hell. And man, do they find the Guardians! Not to spoil anything, but the 3 spring to 11 (or 11.5 since they know who the last member is) in the span of a chapter or two! Suddenly, the quest to find the missing members is over, and all is left is to figure out what they can all do and what spiritual gift their powers are tied to. It was a surprising twist, one I wasn’t expecting given it took two books for us to find the first 3 Guardians, but it does make the book more interesting—skipping forward to the exciting bits, as it were. Would I have liked more build up and for the new team members to seem a bit more surprised by these newly awakened powers? Sure. But at the same time, it will/does keep an otherwise fast-paced series from lagging.
As odd as it may sound, seeing the world through the demons perspective was probably my favorite part. The imagery and how the demons twist things was a lot of fun to read! And, as is becoming the hallmark of this author, this book is packed with positive messages not just about the Christian faith, but also dealing with life in general. Even with all the craziness that these teens are dealing with, the book as a whole is incredibly uplifting and I believe that, if you’re in a reading slump because life has you down, you’ll find something positive that may just help you deal with those issues within Chrobak’s words. But, also in true Chrobak fashion, “Guardian’s Crest” ends on the biggest cliffhanger ever! I, once more, have mixed feelings on this, but I won’t say why because it can get a tad spoiler-y. That being said, this was a fun read and very uplifting—even if you aren’t that religious. Even with how all the Guardians were found feeling a bit overly convenient for my tastes, spending so much time in-between where the second book left off and picking that plot line up again, and my minor qualms with the ending, this is a solid 4 stars for me. Seriously, my personal tastes aside, Chrobak writes lovely YA fiction that is perfect for teens—either those struggling with their faith or just the pressures of life. If you haven’t already, be sure to give this series a read, and thanks to the author for being awesome and providing me with a copy for review!
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