The Fire Stone (Reign of the Elements, Book 1)
Riley Carney
BookLight Press (2010)
ISBN 9780984130702
Reviewed by Maggie Desmond-O’Brien (age 15) for Reader Views (01/10)

Fifteen-year-old Matthias seems like a humble boy from the Western Reaches of Mundaria—albeit one with unusually cruel parents and a magnet for trouble.  But when three horrifying creatures attack him and he is saved by a mysterious wizard, not to mention the baby alorath he kidnaps from a careless circus, it becomes clear that Matt and his friends hold the key to saving their world.

Before anything else is said, the conflicting thing about this book is that it was written by a fifteen-year-old girl, one who’s now sixteen and the founder of a children’s literacy organization called Breaking the Chains, which the sales of this book will fund.  In all honesty, I was not particularly impressed by the writing and the story, but it’s hard not to admire somebody who’s clearly so dedicated and only a little bit older than me!

But the story really was unoriginal—boy with unusual powers and a dragon-like creature meets elves and discovers plots to destroy his world—something of a poor man’s “Eragon,” also written by a dedicated teenager, and a novel that has also been accused of unoriginality.  And that’s what was going through my head every paragraph I read, with every piece of clichéd dialogue and every character right off the shelf.

Despite that, with “The Fire Stone,” Riley Carney shows a lot of determination—something that’s needed to succeed in the YA fiction world.  And if her writing, and her voice mature, I think we’ll have a force to be reckoned with in tomorrow’s realm of teen fiction.  Apparently she’s finished this series, “The Reign of the Elements,” and has started on another.  I’m not particularly interested in what happens next to Matt and his friends, but Riley Carney has captured my attention—and has established herself in my mind as a name to remember.

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