Something is happening in young Jason Hunter’s life that he does not understand. He is seeing some very odd things, and when he discusses them with his parents they just nod and smile. He is determined that he is being followed and is in danger, but he is not able to get them to believe him. He finally talks to his friend Kevin Hayashi with whom he shares everything. They’ve been best of friends ever since Jason saved Kevin from being beat up at school. As Kevin is trying to get more information from Jason about an object he found in the woods, another student shows up, Amelia Reis. She too is a friend of Kevin’s, and althoughshe has heard all about Jason, she has never met him.
Amelia does not fit in with the in crowd in school and is more like Jason and Kevin than anyone else. When Kevin invites her to listen in on the stories he is hearing from Jason, she is intrigued. Because she constantly has her camera with her and is a very curious person she is a good fit for adventure — and has the making of a great new friend.
Once she has left, Jason gets Kevin to come over so that he can help him follow his neighbors, whom he has dubbed the freaks. These are the very same people who seem to be following him, so he and Kevin decide to follow them into the woods. As night breaks, and the freaks leave their house for the woods, Kevin and Jason are right behind. They have every intention of finding out what is happening. When they run into Amelia in the woods, Jason is a bit upset, but she is adamant. She too is following these freaks and will not leave.
Finding a hidden space ship is the very last thing that any of them expect. Even worse, they find that not only have these neighbors been following Jason, but that his real parents have been kidnapped and only he can save them. He must travel to space and find an ancient talisman, both to prevent destruction of the earth and to save his parents from death. As his friends finally agree to help him in this quest, little do they know that they will learn secrets about themselves unknown to all, and that not only the earth is in danger but the entire galaxy itself is in jeopardy. They find strengths within that make them the perfect foil for Jason, who discovers that he is the Heir of Elam. With the help of Shalan, one of the freaks as he calls them, he becomes someone he does not recognize. Yet it is what he needs in order to survive.
In The Talisman of Elam, Jim Mastro has put together a story of adventure and suspense, a tale that can only be dreamed of. The story is strong and bold, delivering an impression of realism, with characters that walk right off the pages. Jason has to grow up quickly, and he steps up and takes the challenge. Kevin is bright and very much into gaming, and with his background he is able to guide the space ship through dangerous situations, saving the group on several occasions. Amanda, with her background in languages, is very adaptable and picks up new languages easier, but is also the most human, wanting to be home, while the boys are enjoying the situations as they occur.
Shalan starts out as an unknown, and while she is still very introspective throughout the first part of the book, when she finally breaks out of her shell she is courageous and very intelligent. She knows the information that will be needed, and when she is injured and almost killed, it takes everything that Jason, Kevin and Amanda have to keep her alive. She is their only link to both where they are going as well as their homes on earth and they need her.
The pace is quick and flowing, with strange and unique individuals, different and dangerous travel, and an exciting type of magic, which is imbued only to the owner of the Talisman.
This is a great young adult book, but with a strong story for anyone that is an enthusiast of science fiction. This is a first in the series of this young group of travelers, and I look forward to hearing more about them.