Revenge of the Man-Dragon is the sci-fi action-packed second book in the Super Trans Tel series by Charles Alfred Morris. The story follows three unique teenagers, Michael Ja’ Farrie, Asia Morris and Shawn Cook, in their battle against a dreaded alien known as Xavier – a fierce sorcerer and Man-Dragon for Earth Two. He was responsible for the death of Michael’s parents in the first book before he was captured and imprisoned. Michael’s father was a CIA agent whose investigation had led to the destruction of Xavier’s occult center. Having escaped prison, he returns in book two to carry out his diabolical quest to conquer the earth and take his revenge on the Ja’ Farrie family.
Michael and his team, equipped with superhuman powers of their own, face off Xavier’s dark magic and his minions in a battle for supremacy on every front. They encounter a crafty evil witch called Agemende who takes possession of Michael’s grandmother, and meddlesome supernatural creatures known as Jinn who nearly succeed in tearing the team apart. Does Xavier finally succeed in conquering earth? Can these brave teenagers truly rise to the challenge? Will the Ja’ Farrie family survive Agemende’s assault?
I’m a big fan of action-packed adventure novels with supernatural undertones, so I was almost certain this book would be a fun read. The plot premise was fascinating enough to pique my interest. However, the writing fell short of my expectations. Several other issues also made the book quite a challenge to get through. Towards the end, I knew I would be unable to give the book nothing more than a 2 out of 4 stars rating.
To start with, the main characters were neither properly introduced to the reader, nor given even a summary backstory to give the reader a clear picture of who they were. All we know is that they are teenagers and friends who have superhuman powers and attend the same school. We don’t know how they met, how they got their powers, or how their powers work. As a matter of fact, we don’t even know the full extent or limitations of their powers.
Additionally, there was the issue of wholly inadequate descriptive text. For an action-packed adventure novel, the story is completely dialogue-driven. There were little to no descriptive elements to give the reader a sense of what any of the characters looked like or where any of the scenes took place. It felt a lot like watching television with your eyes closed. This style of writing also made the story appear rushed.
Furthermore, the plot had too much going on. Asides Xavier, the alien Man-Dragon sorcerer, Agemende the witch, and the numerous Jinn, the story also featured the mob, the FBI, the military, several more aliens whose roles were rather confusing, and a lot of other characters who were irrelevant to the story. I lost track of who was who at some point, but it made no difference to the storyline.
The final straw was the editing. Apart from the grammar and punctuation errors, there was also the issue of scene transitioning. Usually, a new paragraph denotes a new scene. After a while, this stopped being the case as one scene would jump right into another on the very next line; or one dialogue would continue into a new paragraph. This happened several times and made for a rather confusing flow of events. There was also no proper plot structure as the story lacked cohesion. It appeared as if the author threw in whatever idea or scenario that was convenient to fill up the plot.
I am not giving it one star because, despite all its flaws, the book has enough potential for a screen adaptation if re-written and adequately edited. If re-written, young adult readers of the fantasy or sci-fi genre will undoubtedly find a gem in this book.