This is a First Chapter Review request that came in about a week ago. I'm glad authors are taking advantage of this opportunity.
In Balapasar (a fictional nation near Indonesia), nationalist forces begin a civil war in order to end foreign influences. The American ambassador and his family (Raymond Weston, wife Ellen, and their children, Connie  and Jerry ) must flee. Traveling a dangerous route through the rain forest, the Westons are separated. Unable to leave the country, they accept a new goal presented by the White Monks, who began the war: the magnificent Temple City at the nation's center.
Though Connie is considered the reincarnation of a 19th century Chinese woman who ended the first war, the first Blessed Fem succeeded by killing herself, and Connie is expected to follow history. She travels with murderous nomads who are convinced Connie will reveal their great blessing in life. Utilizing her modern sensibilities in a primitive land, Connie survives dynamite and spear attacks, whip thrashings, and burial to her neck in guano. She proves her spirit by helping native clans cure their sick children, bury their dead elders in trees, and by performing as a truthsayer.
In the end, surrounded by nomads, monks, and her reunited family, Connie is due to end the war via suicide. Interrogated as the Truthsayer, she must answer the nations questions of deadly history and future peace. If Connie cannot learn how to make the modern world, her world will end.
COVER: It's beautiful, but I'm not sure what it has to do with the story. Perhaps the author is going for a multi-cultural look. I couldn't tell based upon what I've read. After checking out the author's website, it appears to be a preferred style for his/her work.
FIRST CHAPTER: Connie and her friend, Akira, are walking the streets of Balapasar. An American, Connie fears she is becoming bigoted. She longs for America, not the backwards, simple ways she is subjected to because her father is an American ambassador.
A bald, shoeless man with a white tattoo covering most of his back sends Connie running for her life.
KEEP READING: The author has an eloquent, deep style that paints stunning pictures for the reader. The vast differences between the culture of Balapasar and America are evident. The author has created opposite characters in Akira and Connie. Connie the fat, light brown haired American, and Akira the slim, full of substance Japanese girl. We only catch a glimpse of Connie's brother, Jerry, and his friend in this chapter. This is wise, because there is so much going on in Connie's head and her interaction with Akira, that to introduce more characters would be confusing.
That said, this style didn't captivate me. I like the descriptions and how the author brought us two characters who are so different from each other, but this book is so deep that I didn't know what to concentrate on. I felt my mind wandering among Connie's fear of being a bigot, Akira's simple life that is more modern with devices thanks to her wealthy merchant mother, the discussion of religion, and then the culminating event that leads to Connie's flight.
The Prologue was several pages long, and speaks to the ancient aspect of this novel that the reader isn't aware of in Chapter One. In my opinion, prologues over a page are too much. They encourage you to get invested in events that happened earlier than the start of the story, which creates a harsh break when moving to present events. Short prologues don't have that effect.
I could tell as I read the prologue that the book wouldn't be for me. It's not my style of reading. That doesn't mean it won't work well for another reader. You can get a glimpse of this novel by looking inside on Amazon.
The author submitted the first chapter of this novel to me via email, so I can provide my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation for this first chapter review.