In Search of Rohan Chang
by Lincoln Lee
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
Print Length: 572 pages
Reviewed by Timothy Thomas
A daring romanticization of Good versus Evil, with an emphasis on the plight of minorities in a divisive world
Rohan Chang is a 17-year old Asian American disillusioned with the life his parents want for him.
They think him purposeless, indifferent to tradition, and one bad night away from being a delinquent, but in reality he’s lost. His racial differences made him a target early on in life, so he learned to downplay the stereotypes and blend into the background to avoid ridicule at school. He’s become so used to this that he finds himself unable to speak his heart to his crush, Amayah, and watches from the sidelines as popular guy, Steven Stone, swoops in and whisks her away.
Rohan’s luck changes, however, when he begins hearing a voice in his mind telling him of some great power he has within himself. Initially dismissive of the notion (and convinced he’s going insane), he soon becomes convinced when he begins manifesting things that should be impossible, like running faster than the eye can see and teleporting from place to place.
These newfound abilities make him popular at school and even help him get closer to Amayah, who ends up being an unwitting traveler with Rohan when his powers send him back to the year 1854, where they learn firsthand of the horrors of chattel slavery in Mississippi, and then to New York City in 1980, where they encounter their immigrant parents trying to make their way in America. Rohan also learns more about Amayah’s Christian faith as they get closer.
The pair return to their present (1997) with a newfound compassion for others, not knowing that the lessons they’ve learned will be critical to defeating the evil lurking around the city and unlocking the mystery of the power Rohan bears.
In Search of Rohan Chang is a coming-of-age story that brings the immigrant experience, prejudice, and young love into a fantastical but grounded collision, provoking questions of how we relate to one another and to power.
For example, how does power affect one’s morality? Why do the “right” thing when you can do otherwise and transform your life for the better? How does having power affect your approach to life, especially your relationship with others? It is remarkable that these and other serious questions are broached through the perspective of the life of a 17-year old, but the capable handling of these more serious topics is a testament to the writing prowess and perhaps the lived experiences of author Lincoln Lee.
This story is written with a clear preference for the Christian worldview, and allusions to Christianity permeate the book. What you end up with is a daring romanticization of the eternal fight between God and Satan, where the agents on either side are given unreal power as their representatives on Earth, so a reader’s opinion of the book is likely to be impacted by their own religiosity. On this point, the book handles itself well with Christian concepts, though it generally avoids diving too deeply into its tenets.
In Search of Rohan Chang is a fun and thrilling ride that speaks to the compelling power of true love. I would be glad to recommend this book to its audience.
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