At first things in LONGEVITY: THE WARDENS OF TIME seem bad, and only getting worse. Noah, a young nerd who recently started attending a new school, is being bullied by several classmates and doesn’t have any real friends. Books are his only way of coping with insecurity and loneliness. So it’s no surprise when it’s a bookshop that sets him on a path to self-awareness What is surprising is that the store and its books are magical—and they’re only a small part in a larger story that, ultimately, finds Noah fending off demons from hell in order to save his town.
The novel starts off strong, with characters who feel vulnerable and real. Noah faces a problem that’s all too relevant in today’s schools: the terrible dilemma of whether to bring the issue of bullying to an authority figure, or keep it to oneself to avoid getting picked on even more. His first friend, Wendy, is the boy’s antithesis, a girl so sure of herself that she “would be double-damned” if anyone tries to force her to be something she’s not. And Noah’s mother has a mindset that adults can relate to at once: “All that mattered to her was that he was safe.” This cast of characters quickly and completely sucks the reader into the story, and the magic bookshop becomes the icing on a very enjoyable cake.
But by the midpoint of LONGEVITY, the story has shifted; it’s less about Noah’s young-adult struggles and more about an ages-old spiritual war between angels and demons. The author leans on passages from the Bible and devotes chapters to explaining the religious history of the supernatural bookstore owners. This renders the tone of the book tedious, flat, and in this reader’s opinion, dull. Furthermore, Noah’s sudden spiritual awakening feels unsubstantiated, as do the other characters’ seemingly nonchalant acceptance of his samurai-like fight against hell’s minions. The reader is jarred from the story that had previously felt so immersive, and it’s a constant effort to stay involved in the rest of the book.
Despite this, the lessons the novel seeks to teach are important ones: taking control of one’s fate, letting one’s imagination take charge, and believing in oneself. Even though the reading sometimes feels labored, it’s worth it for the inner reflection the book inspires even after the final page has been turned.
~Christina Doka for IndieReader