These novels are adventure stories, with a few fantastical elements thrown in. Mostly the magical elements are the result of mystical experiences that the main characters (Alexander–a teen boy from California, and Nadia–a teen girl raised in the jungles of South America by her scientist father) have with nature. For example, each teen connects with a totemic creature to draw strength during difficult times. Each of them also connects with indigenous peoples and learns ancient lore that gives them healing skills, or the power to accomplish almost super-human tasks.
What I liked best about these books is that they have inspiring protagonists, particularly Nadia who is as savvy as ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ but also retains a tender love for family and animals. In addition, the exotic locations of these adventures teach readers about the geography, flora & fauna, and religious beliefs of other cultures.
These novels are probably too short and too simplistic to satisfy most adult tastes. But they are great for young people–I’d recommend them for grade 4+.