Strand-Aid

When was the last time you read a book written by a 12-year-old kid? Back in middle school perhaps? If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading juvenile fiction by an honest-to-goodness juvenile, here’s your chance. The Strand Prophecy was penned by a couple of preteen girls (with a lot of hand-holding from their dad, no doubt). It’s not a very good novel, but it certainly provides some entertaining moments.

In his own words, Strand is “a harbinger, a missile rider, and a messenger.” He’s a self-made superhero who rides a decommissioned Tomahawk missile from continent to continent trying to alert everyone to an upcoming “accelerated evolutionary cycle” and the possible extinction of the human race.

Naturally he has a hard time convincing anyone to take him seriously. He may look like Moon Knight and ride atop a spiffy cruise missile, but no one (especially the U.S. President) thinks the world is about to turn upside down in an explosion of spontaneous evolution. People finally start paying attention when a riot of T-Rex crocodiles turn an MTV beach party into a bloody Jurassic buffet. That’s when the Strand Prophecy becomes the Strand Reality.

As powerful (and smart!) as Strand may be, he can’t save the world all by himself. He still needs a lot of help. Thus he surrounds himself with a cast of super-evolved freaks. There’s COTAR Prime, a human “soul” who controls machines, Howler, a chivalrous monkey, Kronos, a man-fish monster, and Dr. E, a veterinarian who is in the throes of her own accelerated evolutionary cycle. All of these characters are defined by their circumstances and are frustratingly shallow and incomplete. Heck, Dr. E doesn’t even get a full name—just an initial. That’s how incomplete she is.

We cannot lie; The Strand Prophecy is riddled with writerly lapses and overly familiar comic book tricks. Among other things, the narrative dynamic in chapter 12 is screwy, “Missile Rider” sounds like the punchline to a dirty joke, and the hero’s motivation is completely flawed. Despite all the problems, however, the book has a certain charm. It’s undeniably loopy and captures a little bit of spazz energy in a bottle. You can feel the authors’ enthusiasm and commitment on every single page. All things considered, their parents must be very proud.

[The Strand Prophecy / By J.B.B. Winner / First Printing: January 2007 / ISBN: 9780979054884]

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