Score: 92/100 (9.2 out of 10)
GREEN YETI MEN!
The Oasis King by Mark David Pullen is a straight-up Kaiju novel! We were not expecting that, but were pleasantly surprised.
What begins as a swamp lands/backwoods story featuring a grandma (“Grams”) acting as a single guardian to several adventurous cousins turns into a thrilling monster novel. The presentation of this book almost feels like one of those Survivor-esque reality shows, namely Alaskan Bush People. There's a sense that Grams, Dylan, Tripp, Jackson, Rumble, and later Martin have been living off the grid for sometime.
If you're into those off the grid stories, this is for you.
So, what is this book about? Well, despite it's wild, fantastical concept, it's actually quite digestible and understandable.
In this book, a group of boys, all cousins, discover a mysterious place called the Valley. the Valley is full of exotic, strange, big, and powerful creatures, some of which seem to be from the Earth's prehistoric past. This book reminded us a lot of Terra Nova or Primeval.
The cousins, led by the eldest, Dylan (“Dyl”), encounter a mysterious, scruffy man named Martin who has been living in the Valley for some time. Martin reveals to the boys that the Valley, also called the Oasis, is a kind of pocket universe wrapped away and separated from the rest of the Earth. Martin reveals that the Oasis is actually a remnant of the Garden of Eden where animals that would've gone extinct due to Noah's Flood are able to continue to exist. This is actually an incredible and interesting premise!
The Valley is inhabited by several of the ominous figures in the novel including the terrifying Oasis King—a giant ogre-like creature with large tusks who roams and “rules” the land. There's also the mysterious and dangerous Green Man who serves as one of the direct antagonists of the novel, hunting Martin and the boys relentlessly.
Now, let's talk about what we really wanted to talk about: Martin. Martin is one of the coolest, most awesome characters we've read about this season. Martin, we quickly learn, is actually Dylan's estranged father and Gram's long lost son. Beside that, though, he's a bad@$$ who has lived alone in the Valley and survived using his own wits (and some luck). Martin knows that Valley as well as anyone. It's from him that we become familiar with it and its strange inhabitants. Martin also reveals more about Grams and Dylan's mother, often noting the similarities between Dylan and his mother. This is strangely touching and sentimental at times.
He reminded us of Stephen Lang's character from Terra Nova or John Locke from Lost.
It is a little unfortunate that he loses a lot of his mystery and coolness almost as soon as we meet him as he reveals how much peril and danger he has been in. It would've been cooler to have him fight and take out some monsters instead of being nearly killed by some of them, but it's ok. Like with Boba Fett, we chose to create our own head canon about him.
Another question that lingers throughout the book is: is Martin really a GOOD GUY? Martin helps the boys, but it always seems like he's hiding something—some secret. We already know that he didn't exactly leave Grams on good terms based on some of the hints he drops. Could he be responsible for some of the bad things that have happened to the boys? Could he be responsible for them living like Bush people?
This book was a lot of fun to read. However, it did seem to stop and end almost as soon as it started. Perhaps the author is aiming for a series.
Check it out on Amazon!