HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Point Horizon: Firmament Series Book 1
Author: David D. Zelenka
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 10-14
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Zelenka, David D. Point Horizon: Firmament Series Book 1 (published in 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 7290 Investment Dr., Suite B, North Charleston, SC 29418). Thirteen year old Tommy lives with his dad and mom at Greasewood in rural northwestern Colorado. When he was ten, the family had moved there from Virginia, where they were close to Tommy’s Aunt Maggie with whom he very much enjoyed spending time, especially during the summers. In the last three years, Tommy has become depressed because he is lonely. Not only has he failed to make any new friends, he has encountered some enemies at school, namely John, George, and Susan, who call themselves Psy, Fate, and Dreammaker and are known as the “Imagers.” They are reported to be involved in drugs and dark arts. Then, just as Tommy’s parents are planning a summer trip after his seventh grade year to visit Aunt Maggie, she passes away, and he doesn’t get to see her. While out in the surrounding hills mourning the loss of his aunt, Tommy meets up with a homeschooled girl his age named Kate whose father is a paleontologist. She also seems lonely and sad due to a secret from her past.
When the two are chased up a canyon by Psy and his gang, they duck into a limestone cave to hide and unexpectedly take a plunge into an unknown world called the Firmament located in the middle of the Earth where Tommy is told that he is in danger because he is being pursued, not by Psy but from within. They are helped by dolphins named Vespers and Laud, a fisherman named Eli, a weaver named Johanna, a scientist-inventor named Wallace, a forest boy named Kenny, and a shepherd named Hope in their attempt to get to “the Way” from which they can go home. Will they be able to return safely? Are there any important lessons for Tommy to learn on the journey? And what is Kate’s secret? Author David Zelenka, a teacher and former National Park Service ranger, says “Though not explicitly Christian, the book explores the power of hope and prayer through Tommy and Katie’s encounter with the Way.” Obviously, the Way is allegorical of Jesus Christ, and Zelenka notes, “The novel’s essential message is to pursue a life of purpose and integrity despite the temptations to view life selfishly and without greater meaning.”
There is one common euphemism (“‘Oh, blast!’ Wallace exclaimed”) but no cursing or profanity. The writing is well done, the plot is easy to follow, and action will appeal to middle grade and high school readers who like fantasy/science fiction adventures. One reviewer claimed, “The old-earth evolutionist position is more or less assumed.” Maybe, but not necessarily, though the text does mention “divergent evolution.” This same reviewer also wrote, “There’s no scripture, no Jesus, no Holy Spirit, no rebirth….The basic feel is universalist: everyone makes it in….Psychologically, problems are discussed and handled well. But there’s nothing spiritual going on,” calling it “spiritually a bit confusing.” However, not everyone will reach the same conclusions. Something doesn’t have to be taken directly from the Bible to be good, and my feeling is that if one looks at the book not as a theological treatise but simply as a fiction story in which the power of hope is the central theme, it’s still a fun tale. I certainly enjoyed reading it. The back contains some Discussion Questions and Creative Connections. Zelenka has also written Hope: the Lamp of the Body and Too Far to Wander: The Tale of a Wayward Student.