Wrapping up 2012 and moving into 2013, I admittedly haven’t done much writing, but here’s the most recent thing – a quick review of CJ Brown’s Diamonds in the Rough, another YA fiction story from Ron Nichols, author of Where the Sky Doesn’t End (previously reviewed on this blog also!).

Nichols’ second young-adult-fiction offering reaches into the adventure genre to bring CJ Brown into the picture as she sets out on what initially appears to be a boring summer. However, unexpected friendships, secrets and an ominous threat from the corporate world quickly set the scene for what will turn out to be an unforgettable beginning to her summer vacation.

Combining geology, a touch of corporate politics and some lovable canines, this story has a plot that weaves a wide spectrum of interests together in a way that is both effortless and seamless. The research behind this story must have been extensive, but this book is far from dry despite its roots in science and geology – again, as we saw in Where The Sky Doesn’t End, Nichols joins reality and fiction with great plausibility and creativity.

Remembering the strong characters in his first book, I approached Nichols’ second book with some degree of expectation, and I am pleased to say that CJ Brown does not disappoint! The trouble with young teen protagonists (especially female ones, in my experience) is that they are frequently angst-ridden in an effort to keep things real, while contradictorily being wise beyond their years. CJ is neither of those things; her thoughts, words and actions are documented clearly and with great empathy, showing how Nichols successfully creates a likeable, plucky 13-year-old who makes mistakes, has emotions and retains individuality – all in equal balance.

The other characters in CJ Brown’s Diamonds in the Rough carry their own weight as well, presenting a vivid and detailed community in which the story is primarily set. They facilitate the storyline’s progress with a colourful and distinctive set of individuals, a definite plus when a story like this focuses on the interaction between characters.

This isn’t as emotional nor as serious as Where The Sky Doesn’t End, but it still has some pretty solid emotional moments, and is beautifully descriptive. The chapters dispel monotony through well-planned changes of viewpoints that provide a feel for different characters in the story, while adding a sense of perspective that prevents readers from getting overwhelmed by details.

Essentially, this is definitely a great young-teen book – particularly the action-packed middle-end section. Pick this up for a fun, youthful read that will inject a little excitement into your weekend! Available on Amazon, links available on Facebook.

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