Saturday, February 20, 2016

Arivaca (Guardians of the Light) by John Poulson


Synopsis via Amazon.com:
Jesse Ballard’s life is filled with misfortune. His parents are dead, he’s been convicted of a crime, and a dark secret torments his soul. But when he’s incarcerated on a ranch for troubled teens he discovers his troubles have just begun. A Supreme Power has literally hijacked his life, bringing him to the ranch to make him the guardian of a powerful relic that was hidden away 2600 years ago when Solomon’s Temple was destroyed. 

Given superhuman powers, Jesse is suddenly thrust into a strange and perilous world of supernal treasures, killers and demons—battling the dark forces who desperately seek the sacred artifact. Thinking he’s on a one man mission, Jesse is shocked to learn that Cedar Lane, a girl who seriously despises him, has spiritual gifts essential for keeping the relic safe. Without her help, he’s in jeopardy of losing not just the relic, but his life. 

As Jesse unravels this secretive and dangerous world he learns the ups and downs of young love, and both the reward and peril of following his divine call.

Arivaca was an easy, gentle read for me. As a Christian, I was intrigued with Mr. Poulson's modern twist on an age old story from the Bible. As a reader of  supernatural/YA, this was a book with deep thought and occasional action. That said, when I combine my two halves, I enjoyed this book with a "gentle sway" kind of feeling.
We find Jesse, a troubled, orphaned teen unable to find any real meaning in his life. He stumbles into a bad situation that ends up being a blessing in disguise. He finds himself placed on a ranch for troubled boys. Here he finds himself on a journey of faith and self-discovery.
 Arivaca is a place of structure where troubled boys can get away from their bad influences, learn to work with others as well as how to make and keep lifelong friendships. Mr. Poulson introduces a number of characters. These characters are pivotal in Jesse's journey. I enjoyed that Mr. Poulson gave you just enough information on each character to explain their impact on Jesse's life without delving deep into their background boring me, There is definitely no doubt that Jesse is the primary character.
I do have to admit though, that I thought Cedar was a little too good to be true as well as confusing.
Jesse is in high school, under 18, and here comes this college graduate that works on the ranch helping with these troubled boys. She is loved by all, gentle and caring, easily and quickly forgiving. Yet Mr. Poulson creates a bond that is both spiritual and intimate. No, I don't mean they have hot and heavy sex. Mr. Poulson creates an intimate relationship between Jesse and Cedar that is gentle, respectful and caring. In my opinion, it borders on inappropriate because of their ages and Cedar's position.
Overall, this is a book that puts a modern twist on some of the stories in the Bible. Mr. Poulson made the Bible relevant to our time. He opens the reader's eye to the fact that evil and demons wear the face of humanity, that satan doesn't have to pull evil out of the depths of hell because there are any number of humans he can recruit to his side.  
On a personal note: I was flabbergasted when I googled Arivaca and found that there is an actual Arivaca, AZ as well as an Arivaca Boys Ranch! But what really hit me over the head was the fact that I lived so close to the town for over 11 years and never heard of it. Sierra Vista, AZ, the home of Ft. Huachuca, the home of Military Intelligence is literally just a few miles due east of Arivaca.
Mr. Poulson's choice of setting is a mirror of what Jesse must become. AZ is a place of beauty and serenity where anything that lives must dig deep into themselves, utilizing their inner strength to help them survive. They have to have faith in themselves and learn their strengths and weaknesses.
Who will like this story? I think readers who enjoy Christian Fiction as well as paranormal readers who can take or leave erotica.
Will I read the rest of the trilogy when they come out? This is a "wait and see" for me. I am intrigued to see where Mr. Poulson takes this story, but at the same time, this is not a story that left me feeling like I just HAVE to read more.

disclosure: I received a free copy of this book throught Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.