Book Review: “Tristan Strong Keeps Punching” by Kwame Mbalia

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When life knocks you out, the only way to survive is to keep hitting. This is the message behind the epic of Kwame Mbalia Tristan Strong keep hitting which closes the Tristan Strong trilogy. Mbalia has a tough job ahead of her with her latest outing. Not only does he have to bring the series to a satisfying conclusion, but he also has to tell an incredible story. I’m so happy and happy to report that Mbalia has gone above and beyond with Tristan Strong’s third outing.

In the latest book of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, Mbalia defined action in our world, and Alke’s gods and villains are lost among the millions of our communities. For Tristan Strong, it’s important to reunite with the people of Alke and preserve the stories that empower the gods of Alke.

At the heart of this action-packed novel is how Tristan tries to preserve the stories of gods and heroes from African and black mythology. In doing this, Tristan learned that there are stories everywhere that connect mythology to the real history of America. This mid-level novel is not only an absolute pleasure to read, but will help students develop a better understanding of our society and today’s issues.

Departing from New Orleans on a strong family reunion, Tristan, with his divine gifts from Alke, sees through the happiness and joy that exists on the surface of tourists’ faces and building facades. New Orleans is a city built on the violence of the slave trade. This historic violence that has been buried in the city streets is the perfect lure for King Cotton. This vile monster of Alke is free to swallow up the magic and spirit of the story and the residual suffering implanted in the world. Cotton takes on the story’s hidden ghosts to fuel his campaign to take over the world.

There are monsters and ghosts, and plenty of epic battles throughout the book. Being friends with gods like John Henry, High John, Keelboat Annie, and Anansi isn’t something everyone will experience, but every reader should put themselves in Tristan Strong’s shoes. The anger and violence that Tristan experiences is not just due to a legendary monster. The violence and anger of modern times affected Tristan more than any mythical monster.

Just like HBO The watchmen woke the world up with the Tulsa Race Riots, Mbalia used historical facts as the backbone to support her narrative. The spotlight is brought back to the massacres of black soldiers during the Civil War at Fort Pillow and the massive terror that befell black citizens of National City. For Tristan, going up the Mississippi these days turns out to be more dangerous than anything he has experienced in Alke.

Throughout the book, Tristan teams up with the gods Alke and his friends Ayanna, Junior, and Gum Baby to help deliver a decisive blow to stop King Cotton. While the friendships are well fleshed out on the page, it is the growing relationship of love and hate that Tristan has with Gum Baby that brings lightness to the story. Gum Baby and Tristan had their differences, but their friendship was the backbone of the story.

Gum Baby was the lifeless doll of a legend that comes to life for this series, and Gum Baby’s female personality clashes with Tristan on so many levels, that the seriousness of the books has been lightened thanks to the jokes of Tristan and Gum Baby. Tristan Strong keep hitting elevates their relationship beyond the need to work together as friends. Gum Baby matures with Tristan, and the pint-size label in this book is very different from when readers first meet her. He’s an older and seasoned Gum Baby, who doesn’t hesitate to insult Tristan, but who also proves his worth and love to him.

Which makes Tristan Strong keep hitting such an incredible read is history. Mbalia has brought to the page for college kids and readers of all ages mythologies that have been cast aside or satirized in a negative light in the past. The spirits of a story and the echo left by an event leave an imprint of history on the earth and the people who live there. While the quest to stop Cotton is the focus of the book, Mbalia takes her time to show how magic and belief exist in children, and how their undisputed ability to believe is what makes a story real, viable, and everlasting. His creativity in weaving this latest Tristan Strong story is heightened when he introduces Spirit John.

High John the Conqueror, a legendary god from Alke is also found in the form of Spirit John of the 1800s. This ghost of a god follows Tristan and helps him on his journey, but for much of the book he cannot be. seen only by Tristan. Thanks to Tristan’s abilities, he can help his friends see Spirit John. Mbalia reminds us that it’s easy to ignore, and it’s easy to forget, but sometimes the power of a good story will help everyone recognize what’s been in front of their eyes all the time.

Among the many historical truths that have been brought to light for readers to uncover, we have great insight into how a teenager deals with the death of their friend. The book trilogy takes place over a summer, and now in Tristan Strong keep hitting, we see a heartbroken Tristan entering the final stages of mourning over the death of his friend Eddie. With such competing stories happening simultaneously, one would assume that the story’s message might be lost. Not so! Kwame Mbalia has built a fantasy world, with rich and complex characters who are alive in the violence of the past and hope for the future.

Readers will have no difficulty in putting themselves in Tristan Strong’s shoes and seeing the world through his eyes. A good writer will make you love the main character and promote his success. A great author will help readers empathize with the main character, see the world through their eyes, and think about everything you’ve been missing. Kwame Mbalia is a great author.

Tristan Strong keep hitting is scheduled for October 5. If you haven’t read any of Tristan Strong’s books, what are you waiting for?

You can also join Kwame Mbalia’s promotional book tour.


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