[Book Review] The Sage Challenger by Chad Rasmussen
“The day Arian Coles stepped into the CUBUS his life would be changed forever. His scores were high enough to thrust him into the world’s greatest and most dangerous competition. But this is no game, the winner will become one of the ten world leaders–a Sage. According to Sage Law there must always be Ten Sages, but the eldest, Kanja, is dying. He must be replaced. Unable to find a suitable replacement among their own people, the Sages turn to the working class populace and institute the Challenger Competition. Through their love of intelligence, athleticism, technology, and extreme sports they have created The Challenges–ten Challenges in the most dangerous locations on earth. Making friends and foes along the way, Arian must be on his guard at all times. He must decipher his feelings between Maria and Ciana and decide if one is his ally or enemy. At the brink of death, Arian will have to prove if he has the fortitude to make it through unimaginable adversity and be crowned a Sage. But is this the end goal for Arian? He must decide what his true purpose is.”
Wow! What a ride! Full disclosure: Chad Rasmussen lives in my neighborhood. It always makes me a little nervous to review books for people that I know. What if I hate it? What if it’s poorly written? Especially with first-time authors, you never know what you’re going to get. So, when his wife asked if I’d read his book, I said, “Yes,” and then I got worried. However, I needn’t have worried. In his debut novel, Chad Rasmussen takes one part Hunger Games, one part The Amazing Race, and one part Olympics, and successfully mixes them all up into one crazy concoction of action, revenge, betrayal, amazing feats, and change for the Cive people. You can’t help but like Arian. He’s strong, determined, intelligent, easy to relate to, and courageous. The Challenges are insane! Racing on snowboard-type boards on sand dunes, capoeira to the death, soccer on water skates, and flying suits. I was really glad that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law introduced me to capoeira so that I knew what they were talking about. I watched them in a tournament once, and it was quite exciting! Here’s a video of what capoeira is. It’s 8.5 min, but you just need to watch the first couple of minutes to see what it is.
What did you think? Pretty fun to watch, right? Now just picture them fighting to the death using capoeira. On a small platform. Thousands of feet in the air. Scary! Overall, I’d say that this book is well written. The characters are developed well, the story flows well, is easy to read and understand, and it’s full of action. The Challenges are exciting to read about, and the relationships Arian has with Maria, Shen, and Komi add such a great element to the story. I loved how they supported him. I’d say that overall it was a bit predictable, but there were enough surprises along the way to keep me reading. I came to enjoy this sci-fi world that Chad Rasmussen has created. The ending was a bit of a drop-off-a-cliff, so I hope there is a second book to take us off the ledge we’re hanging from.
Rating: PG+ (There was one swear word that I remember, so not terrible there, and there isn’t any “intimacy,” except for some brief kissing. It is quite violent though. A lot of characters die, and some of them quite graphically.)
Age Recommendation: Young Adult and up (12+)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, and Chad Rasmussen does live in my neighborhood; however, this did not affect my review.