“Days of Grey” by Bonnie Allen

Road trips are boring. Anyone who has ever been on one knows it. Hour after hour of sitting in a vehicle with the unchanging road going by. Anyone who decides that a road trip will be the main action of the story needs to be aware of this.

In most action-adventure fantasies of this sort, the plot hangs on two conflicts. The internal one is for the protagonists to find out who they are and what magical changes are happening to them. The second and more important conflict is the external one, where our heroes have to use their new powers to escape the mysterious villains that are chasing them. Normally the first conflict is solved relatively early, and the second battle would be the main source of the action. However, in this story, the more important conflict is for the heroes to discover the source of their increasing powers, to puzzle out what their parents did to cause their condition and to find out what their parents are up to. The author doles out snippets of information on this topic very slowly to all of us. Thus the main action of the road trip is the characters sitting in the vehicle or around the campfire agonizing about what the heck is going on.

No matter how sympathetic and well-defined the characters may be (and they are), no matter how interested we are in their developing relationships  (and we are) this is not enough to create the kind of suspense we need to keep readers’ emotions enrapt and our interest up.

And speaking of relationships, this brings up another conflict that drives many stories: sexual tension. No matter how cute we find love at first sight, when two characters are drawn to each other by a mystical bond from the very first, there isn’t much suspense involved in where their relationship is going.

And that’s how it is with Jake and Arrow. The course of their love is sweet and heartwarming, but the result is a foregone conclusion. The sparks that fly at first between Ty and the aptly-named Briar seem destined for fun, but that doesn’t last either. A more interesting though one-sided love triangle seems to be developing near the end, but that is saved for the next episode.

The serialized nature of the road trip means that there is no overall story arc, no build to a serious climax. Despite all the distance the characters travel, readers don’t get the impression they are making any progress on several levels. The next book will probably take place in Alaska. Maybe that will help.

Another problem, though minor, is the need for editing. For example, the author should check out the difference between “diffused” and “defused,” between “parameter” and “perimeter.”

An Action Adventure Fantasy with attractive characters but a road trip that doesn’t go anywhere.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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