Title: Sinbad and the Tomb of Alexander
Author: Kevin Missal
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Age Group: 10+ years (publisher’s recommendation is 13 years+)
I am posting this on behalf of my 14 year old daughter Sonimrin Shimray, who loves spending her time reading and painting.
Sinbad The Sailor: The Tomb of Alexander by Kevin Missal is the second book of the trilogy and I read this with absolutely no prior knowledge of the previous volume. Courtesy to Kids Book Café and Penguin Publishing House for sending me this book to review.
The plot is simple. Set in the imaginary kingdom of Harun-al Rashid, the story traverses several real countries, taking us on a journey with Sinbad the sailor: the world saving hero. Iblis, the antagonist is up to no good and after his first attempt to be released is thwarted, he tries again. This time with another general at his command. Once again the responsibility falls upon Sinbad and his crew to save the whole world in exchange for their freedom. He embarks on a voyage to find the Tomb of Alexander in hope to find the water of life and stop Iblis and his nefarious ways.
If ‘lukewarm’ was a book, I think this one would take the title. It was neither cold nor hot, it wasn’t even warm, just lukewarm water that you have no choice but to use because you just have to take a bath. It was oddly mundane and that’s exactly what I felt while reading this book. I felt under-whelmed while flipping through the promised ‘Young adult/ fantasy action packed scenes’ of battling giant serpents, golems, vampires, vikings, ghosts and dragons. Unfortunately, it was a rather forgettable experience.
The first discrepancy, I felt, was with the beginner friendly language and the writing style the author uses. It uses many ‘Gen-Z’ dictions and Percy Jackson-esque humour which isn’t necessarily lousy if the other elements of the story go hand in hand with it – ultimately balancing out the simple wording with compulsive characters and their arcs. That’s the only difference between Missal’s and Riordan’s writing – the characters. No one had any character development, not even the protagonist. They felt jejune and sterile as if there was no other personality trait beyond the ocean of the obvious labels given beforehand.
All I learned about Sinbad is the fact that this young man has some witty repartee to say every time he’s in a physical fight with someone. And he’s skilled in combat, well obviously! The whole witty repartee sections felt so forced and almost like Kevin went back in time and copy pasted quotes from ‘2014 Tumblr for cool kids’ that even in one part of the book the side character literally said the lines of “Your highness, I didn’t bring this man (Sinbad) to you so we can talk about you past deeds.”
Just made me really wonder if the author intentionally wrote the dialogue prosaically but either way it was unimpressive.
Throughout the story we got suspense filled situations being thrown at Sinbad and his group of foes and them reacting to it for that ‘Wow!’ factor. I honestly expected some moral or some epiphany at the end of it so there could be character development. This all resulted (for my long patience) in dragging me through prolonged action sequences which could have been narrated shorter.
As an example, there’s this one chapter at the start where Sinbad fights a man named Cain in a boxing ring for a crowd. They spend a couple of pages exchanging dialogues while circling each other in the ring. I would have still excused this slow build up if the dialogue was well written.
The fight itself was anti-climatic.
I couldn’t help but notice the similarities from the ‘Stranger Things’ Netflix series to the ‘Wheel Of Time’ book series. Some of you would agree with me if you read the books.
Similarities abound, from having adequate knowledge of the place, like exact coordination, or a clear picture of the place in their mind in order to transport much like in ‘Wheel Of Time’ to a character named Pressa whose nose bleeds after every ‘episode’. Here the ‘episode’ refers to supernatural encounters. Reminds you of the character Eleven in ‘Stranger Things’.
These similarities are not exactly awful but aren’t really fresh either. If you adore reading fantasy, a lot like me, I feel you won’t really find it unique and satisfactory.
What I did like about the book is that I find it hilarious that Sinbad keeps sassily smiling whenever he’s in danger, especially if he’s held hostage with a sharp sword pointed at his neck. Maybe Kevin is Sinbad.
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