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Requiem, Changing Times by R. J. Parker
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Requiem, Changing Times (edition 2019)

by R. J. Parker (Author)

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Member:Letora
Title:Requiem, Changing Times
Authors:R. J. Parker (Author)
Info:Olympia Publishers (2019), 464 pages
Collections:Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating:****
Tags:fantasy, young adult

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Requiem, Changing Times by RJ Parker

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In one world, O’Neil and Banks are running from pursuers as they make their way back to their home to begin a mission to save their world. In the same world, the Fury are on a similar mission to retrieve what O’Neil and Banks are seeking to retrieve to save their world, but definitely have no intention of saving the world. In our world, Clint and Corbin are two middle school kids looking forward to the upcoming Halloween dance, if Clint can ever get up the nerve to talk to his crush intelligibly. When a whole bevy of fantastical creatures tumble out of nowhere, they find their lives, and the lives of Clint’s siblings, irrevocably changed as O’Neil and Banks and their team seek to protect them wile finding the mysterious Requiem and the other, more sinister team only seems to want to kill them all and take Clint with them.

I’m honestly not even sure how to categorize this book as I’ve seen it listed as MG, YA, and simply as Fantasy. There are elements of all three, which was kind of mind boggling. I’m not a big reader of Middle Grade books, but do enjoy the charm of innocence, and am always on the lookout for books my kids might enjoy when they are older. I thought this book sounded like a lot of fun, and right up my alley as I love clashing worlds. I really liked the idea of a fantasy world coming into ours instead of people from our world heading into a fantasy world. A portal fantasy in reverse. I hoped for a fun, lighthearted read with lots of adventure, but I’m afraid I got something that felt a little too adult.

The Characters: What Lovely Siblings!
The book description only mentions Clint, Corbin, O’Neil, and Banks, but the book itself has so many more characters. I found it difficult to remember who this book was supposed to be about, and often wondered if I was even right. From the description, it should be Clint and Corbin, at least, but it seemed to be more of a family affair. I did love that Clint has so many siblings, both blood siblings and stepsiblings. They were each a lot of fun and had quite a bit of character and spunk, as well as fun moments of being completely befuddled. At the same time, the story focused on them as a group though much of the story was told from Clint’s perspective. It was a little confusing to figure out who the story was supposed to be about. I suppose it’s the whole family, but then there were parts when Clint was clearly the focus and the whole story revolved around him. I suppose I just wish the POV had been nailed down a little better, but I really loved reading about the whole family.

I did so love the characters. They were probably my favorite part of this book. I thought Kayla was quite mature for her age, though, and Tamara’s change was so sudden it felt like it came from left field, but, really, the characters made the story fun and interesting. The only one that bothered me was Corbin because he honestly felt like a rubber ball pinging off every wall in the house. The only consistent thing about his character was that he was fun. Cody was probably my favorite. As the second oldest (I won’t even go into the oldest kid because she isn’t seen much and was really painted as being too self-absorbed for my tastes), he had quite a bit of responsibility on his shoulders, so his freak outs and wanting to be noble at the same time was so much fun.

I also really liked the characters from the other world. The bad ones were really bad and the good ones were typical good ones. They kept the Earth kids in the dark until they couldn’t anymore, but were really set on protecting them. It was kind of sweet, but also infuriating. Still, they were a lot of fun, especially O’Neil, though I was torn between thinking him lazy and dangerous.

The Setting: A Portal Fantasy in Reverse, So…Here
Most of the book takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area. I haven’t spent much time in that area, so I don’t know it well, but I didn’t get a strong Northern California feel from the book. I couldn’t help but wonder where all the natural fog was. Though there was mention of a lot of hills. Still, I got more of a sense of a small city or even a large town more than I did San Francisco. Unless the city was named, I actually stopped thinking it was anything other than some unnamed city. There is a nearby farm that’s mentioned, along with the couple who run it, and I just completely failed to believe it could exist in the Bay Area. Though, I could be very wrong.

The fantasy world felt quite intriguing. The reader only gets a small slice of it as most of the book takes place in our reality, but it felt like it was more detailed and had a better sense of place. That doesn’t mean I know much about it from reading this one book, but it did sound intriguing and I liked that part of the world was comprised of completely ordinary inhabitants who changed because of the evil intent in their hearts. It was such a unique concept, I almost wish the story had taken place there rather than on Earth.

The Plot: A Lot More Dangerous Than Expected
This is one area that really left me wanting. The book opens with quite a bit of action and excitement, but then it doesn’t really tie in with anything else in the book. I spent the entire thing wondering when we would get back to it. It felt like the first 10% or so was just a really long build-up to the real story and, at the end of the book, you realize it’s all actually just set up for a greater series. I felt like the whole purpose of this book was just to get a bunch of kids from one place to another under the guise of looking for something called the Requiem.

From the description, I expected a fun story of two middle school kids attempting to juggle school and trying to help two weird beings from another world find some kind of relic. Instead, it was a whole family of kids being roped into really dangerous missions that actually injured and nearly killed them all multiple times. This is actually where the idea of this book being MG completely lost me. Too much of the content is for an older audience and I think, if I were to let my kids read this when they’re in middle school, it would probably freak them out. It was so far from the fun book I envisioned. Instead, it’s full of death and destruction, as well as a whole bunch of opening scenes that didn’t really add much to the story and could have been left out.

I really wanted to like this book. I was really hoping it would be a fun read, especially as we now find ourselves being told to stay home. I find myself requiring fun, adventure, and excitement. Instead, this book kind of horrified me. It may read like a book for a younger audience in terms of the writing itself and how the story was laid out, having a really nice focus on family, and heavily involve a middle school kid, but I think I’d rather firmly shelve this on the adult shelves and wonder just why some people might call this MG, unless that genre has really shifted in recent years, in which case my kids will be stuck reading picture books until they’re 18.

Lastly, I’d like to point out that this book required a heavy dose of willing suspension of disbelief for me. There were bits and pieces strung all over the place that were never returned to or were seemingly forgotten. The details were lacking. There was more of a focus on all the action and driving the story forward than on putting the time and energy on really fleshing out the story so it made terrific sense, so I found myself having to ignore all these bits of pieces and suspend disbelief so I could believe it.

Overall: Great Characters, But the Story Left Me Wanting
This book has some good points and some points that I wasn’t too keen on. I adored the characters and I loved their relationships. They were so much fun. But the story itself was anything but fun. It was full of death and destruction and, frankly, a lot of the content just horrified me. Some might label this MG, but, unless it’s really changed lately, I can’t see myself calling it that. Some have called it YA, which might be more appropriate, but I didn’t get many YA vibes from it. The teenage characters were painted through more childlike eyes, though there is a touch of romantic interest. But I really, really, really loved that this book brought fantasy characters into our world, though I was disappointed by how the end went. Overall, great if you enjoy daring missions involving children and can forgive a lot of the trauma these kids are likely to face.

Thank you to the author, R. J. Parker, for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own. ( )
  The_Lily_Cafe | Jun 28, 2020 |
Requiem, Changing Times by R J Parker is fun, addictive and a real page-turner. Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Stranger Things, will love this entertaining and compelling young adult urban fantasy.

Take a little magic, a jovial Scottish Dwarf, a misshapen Fury, an ordinary teenage boy, add an ogre or two and drop them all into a typical family, and then wait for the fireworks! Holbrook School has no idea what’s happening! Dead bodies have the police baffled. Mystery lies over the town as supernatural beings create havoc. Clint Holden (unbeknownst to him) is supposed to be the holder of the Requiem. A race is on between The Spell Binder and his ogres and imps, and Banks and O’Neil and their crew to reach the Requiem first. Amongst all the mayhem Clint and his brothers and sisters endeavor to carry on regardless, making trips to school an out-and-out war zone.

Not only did I find this book exciting, but it also made me smile nearly all the way through. I don’t want to spoil things, but I have to say that the Dwarf O’Neil made me chuckle the most, loved his appearance at the school Halloween dance! Also, I really enjoyed the chapter titles, for example a chapter where Clint has to take his parents a letter from school about his bad behavior is called, Do I Need a Lawyer!

All fantasy creatures and mayhem aside, this book is about family. Still raw from the death of his father, Clint finds it really hard to accept that his mother has married again. Thrown into a household of strangers he’s supposed to call family, Clint finds a rage within him that he doesn’t know how to handle. His step-dad John has also been married before and already has children. With a batty, TV crazy grandmother confined to her room upstairs, and a Goth step-sister isolating herself in the cellar and everyone in-between, the house is teeming with people, but loneliness keeps Clint feeling brittle. Through the extraordinary events that come crashing down on them they start learning what it means to be family.

R J Parker has created a well-written, exciting page-turner that you won’t want to miss. Requiem, Changing Times is a fun, gripping fantasy, and comes highly recommended ( )
  EllaJames | May 15, 2020 |
This review is also featured on Behind the Pages: Requiem, Changing Times

Clint has no idea his life is about to change. When he goes to school, it seems like any other day where Mrs. Christenson targets him for the principal’s office. But two groups of fantasy creatures have crossed over into his world. Each of them searching for Clint and his ties to the mysterious Requiem. But which side will find him first? And in the end, will the Requiem be used for good or evil? Requiem, Changing Times takes familiar creatures from the fantasy genre and crosses them into the real world. Using a combination of mystery and humor, young readers will immerse themselves in a world of action and adventure.

R.J. Parker made sure to keep a steady stream of humor throughout his story. In particular, the dwarf O’Neil and his trusty sidekick Nuts the squirrel end up in a few situations that will make readers laugh. The witty banter and comical interactions are definitely intended for the younger side of the YA audience. Although with the number of insults used, I’m not sure it is appropriate for the age group. Clint is an opinionated young man, but he isn’t the kindest to people who are different than he is. Anyone who is overweight or older is scrutinized by him.

I also found that there was a large number of similes used. Instead of using descriptions, Clint was often compared to animals. “Clint felt like a cat keeping away from areas with a lot of noise…” “Clint felt like a dog jogging behind his master…” Make sure you like to read similes because as a style choice it held the story back for me. However, I think it would help the younger audience connect to what was occurring in the story.

I do think a younger audience will appreciate this book. Clint goes through many things they can relate to. He deals with the emotional rollercoaster of having a stepfather he hasn’t quite accepted yet. He and his best friend Corbin have innocent antics in school that land them in trouble. And the grand adventure of searching for the Requiem will certainly keep them reading! The only reason I took a star away was for the number of insults used, as I don’t think I would want my kids to repeat some of them. ( )
  Letora | Feb 24, 2020 |
What Made Me Read It I was sent a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The synopsis sent by the author sounded interesting: a normal 7th grader just starting junior high who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a conflict between magical beings, while trying to keep the appearance that things are normal to everyone around him.

The Plot Clint Holden is just a normal 7th grader at Holbrook school, getting in trouble with his best friend Corbin and with an uncanny inability to speak in front of his crush Melanie. Until the day he gets chased down by a scary size-shifting red creature determined to kill him. Clint thought the worst of his problems was dealing with a math teacher with an ax to grind and inviting Melanie to the Halloween dance... now Clint has a group of strange people from another world camping at his house, including a dwarf with a Scottish accent who loves Disney movies and gets high on Pepsi and an elf druid who insists on growing trees inside the toilet, while terrifying creatures commanded by a creepy stranger in a dark hood chase him around town.

Banks is a Knight of the Salvations Alliance, in a world where humans coexist peacefully with mythical beings, elves and dwarfs, pixies and fairies; a world threatened by the Fury, a coalition of dark creatures who wish to take away freedom of choice and impose their will on everyone. Together with his trusted second in command O'Neil and a small group of skilled warriors, Banks is sent through a magical portal on a secret mission to retrieve the Requiem, a sacred object that could save their world, bringing all who live together, or destroy it. His only lead is an old parchment with a list of names: Clint Holden and his family, whom they must protect from the imps, orcs and trolls sent by the Spell Binder to kill them.

The Good "Requiem, Changing Times" is the first book of a young adult fantasy series set in near future San Francisco. The world is in economic and political turmoil with brewing wars worldwide, forcing starving refugees to migrate. Clint Holden is a young boy just starting junior high, still reeling from his father's death and having trouble relating with his stepfather, a wealthy Nobel Prize scientist researching temporal anomalies and DNA mapping. The story takes place during the course of a single week at Halloween, as Clint's normal life is turned upside down when two different groups of strange beings appear in search of the Requiem, a mysterious object that could save or destroy a world thought to be in the possession of his stepfather; while one group is set on protecting Clint and his family, the other is just as determined to kill them all.

The plot is fast-paced and action-packed with thrilling chase sequences and skirmishes as the Fury army of dark creatures and the Salvations Alliance task force clash with one another, an ongoing mystery surrounding the search for the mysterious Requiem and plenty of quirky humor and brilliant one-liners that had me laughing all the way through. The worldbuilding is imaginative and complex: the Reclamation, a process through which a person who does bad deeds physically transforms into an evil creature, making it all but impossible for anyone to even lie in order to avoid such a terrible fate; bows that shoot arrows made of light; the size-shifting imps who look human but speak in animal sounds; the magical abilities of the Spell Binder capable of freezing a person from the inside out; the druids powers to control nature and heal...

The characters are for the most part 3-dimentional, with realistic behaviors and motivations, with the main character Clint being the most developed: a young boy with the normal mischievous nature of a junior high student but also dealing with feelings of anger and resentment towards his stepfather, who must grow beyond his years and learn to value his family when the world around him suddenly proves to be much bigger and dangerous than he thought possible.

The Not So Good There are way too many characters to keep track of. Even though each of Clint's 5 siblings is a unique character, with specific and distinguishable personalities, it took me several chapters before I could remember and differentiate them. Banks' special ops team on the other hand remained a mere list of 7 confusing names for the entire novel, with the exception of his second in command O'Neil.

One of the very early chapters feels completely irrelevant, introducing characters and events that have no part or meaning in the main story. There are also a few lose ends and events left unexplained, but since this is the 1st volume in the series it's possible the answers will be provided in future installments.

Read the full review on: https://literaryportals.blogspot.com/2020/02/book-review-requiem-changing-times-...

Final Rating "Requiem, Changing Times" is the first book of a young adult fantasy series set in near future San Francisco, with a fast-paced plot action-packed with thrilling chase sequences, an ongoing mystery and plenty of quirky humor and brilliant one-liners. Recommended for those who enjoy fantasy stories in school settings, with mythical beings (elves, dwarfs, orcs, ogres...) and magical powers. ( )
  LiteraryPortals | Feb 17, 2020 |
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