CSFF Blog Tour – Venom And Song, Day 2

I may have mentioned that Venom and Song by Wayne Batson and Christopher Hopper (Thomas Nelson) is a young adult fantasy, but apparently Amazon has it listed as a middle grade novel. Neither is quite accurate. A better description, though book stores don’t have a section labeled in this way, is a “tweener” book—not middle grade, not young adult.

Since I taught “tweeners” (ages twelve to fourteen) for years, I am somewhat familiar with that audience. In fact, when I first started writing, I wanted to create stories for this group that was, at the time, overlooked. Consequently, I’m happy that Wayne and Christopher, along with a handful of other Christian fantasy writers, have stepped up to meet the challenge.

Here are some reasons why I think the Berinfell Prophecies, of which Venom and Song is book 2, give tweeners what they’re looking for.

Tweener humor. This is slightly different than regular humor. A part of the requisite elements is bodily functions, and Venom and Song provides just the right touch with the little problem the gnome king has. 😳

A distant perspective. Tweeners are self-conscious and consequently not at the “getting in touch with yourself” stage. Above all, they want to feel normal (though most don’t) and fit in. The omniscient perspective in which Venom and Song is written allows for some distance—some non-threatening distance that I think the target audience may prefer.

Fast pace. In response to one reviewer, Wayne used the term “high energy” about his co-author. I think the term fits Venom and Song like a pair of Spandex biker shorts. 😆 From the first page, the story is action oriented. Danger, intrigue, and betrayal alternate with near-death experiences. Nothing slow or meandering about this one.

Tweener themes. The story has well-crafted themes that tweeners won’t miss but also won’t reject because of a strong-handed delivery. I suspect instead, many will see themselves in at least one of the characters—the unloved son, the bully who lashes out because of his anger, the pushed-to-perform daughter, the girl who doesn’t fit in, the nerd, the jock, the perfect student.

Each of these true-to-life personas was established in book 1 of the series, Curse of the Spider King. Now in book 2, the characters find the assumptions upon which they constructed their paradigm for living no longer hold true. In fact, maybe they never did.

Was Kat ever ugly because she was different? She thought so, but now she finds it isn’t true. Was it ever true? Was Kiri Lee’s worth only in the applause she received for her performance? Was Jimmy’s life ever worthless because he didn’t receive the love at home he so desperately craved? On and on the story takes the teens who will identify with these types of struggles and questions.

I suspect there are factors I’m leaving out, but I’m quite confident the elements I’ve named make this a very appealing book to tweeners.

Lots of buzz on the CSFF tour about the book. You won’t want to miss the excellent interview Amy Browning has with Wayne or John Otte‘s confession leading to an analysis of Christian fiction. Jason Joyner has some heartfelt words about reading the book aloud to his sons, and Jeff Chapman once again has some worthwhile analysis of the book.

These are just a few of the highlights. Any number of reviews are available, and it’s through the accumulation of comments, I think, that you can get a real feel for how readers are receiving this book.

Take time to check out the check marks in the list at the end of yesterday’s post. Each one is a link to a specific tour article.

6 Comments

  1. Hi, Becky. Wow, you really have a way with words. Your analysis of Kat, Jimmy, Kiri Lee–and how their “fake” foundations were torn away–that they never were true foundations–that was just beautiful stuff. One of my favorite scenes was Kat seeing the Berylinian Elves, who are also blue. It amazes me how “fake” so much of life is, and even though most of us hate the “fake”-ness, we perpetuate it at every turn. Jesus please rescue us from ourselves.

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  2. The scene with Kat seeing the blue elves was a moving scene. I really liked reading about the kids getting past their shells and developing friendships with each other. The book seemed at times like a Christian John Hughes story…if you get my meaning. 🙂

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  3. I think your right Becky. One problem I had was the POV of so many characters. But for the age group this book is written for, that may not be a bad thing. Like you said, it gives the young reader a comfortable distance from the issues tweeners can have while letting them see those issues worked out.

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  4. last book I read about “tweens” by Nancy Rue listed them 8-12 (hence not a teen yet, but a tween).. 13+ to me or at least where I am from is middle school! lol so that fits for my understanding of tween and middle school, so I guess Amazon works for me lol.
    I think this was one of those books that sort of bridges ages though.. like Narnia.. don’t have to be just young to enjoy it!
    I had fun doing up a few quotes (I put one out just now) and I’ll have more out during the weeks to come!
    Great pick for October!

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  5. OMG, I’m so ready to read this book…I have the feeling that it might help me develop some of my other works!! But first I want to prepare and participate in NaNoWriMo!

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  6. These are some good thoughts. It’s interesting that some of the very things that didn’t appeal to me might have made it more appealing to the intended audience.

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