‘Franklin Rock’ book review: shades of Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker in this coming-of-age adventure

  • If you’re a fan of Paulo Coelho’s philosophical stories, you might enjoy Mark E. Klein’s debut novel
  • The “Chosen One”-type hero experiences a spiritual awakening that many teens will relate to
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Franklin Rock

FRANKLIN ROCK

By Mark E Klein

Published by Greenbriar Publishing

ISBN 978 097616846 1

There’s a moment in Franklin Rock when the protagonist’s professor tells him, “If you pay attention, you can see the future in the past”. It’s hard not to feel those words reverberate in real life right now. It can be difficult to have faith in something better.

But Franklin Rock, a gentle novel that blends time travel with some existential thinking, presents the case for hope by presenting a hero for all humanity, thanks to author Mark E. Klein.

Klein has created a hero reminiscent of “The Chosen One” in a “Hero’s Journey” type of story. Franklin has much in common with Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins, Peter Parker and Forrest Gump – a young person finding his way in the world, and learning about himself.

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While there is no epic battle scene, Franklin does experience a spiritual awakening, receives supernatural aid, must face challenges and temptations, and has a transformation that allows him to bestow his gifts on humankind.

Franklin is an interesting hero, a university student who is surprisingly self-aware and yet determined to be a “regular guy”. While one of his best friends is a slave to his grades, and another, well, is almost exactly the opposite, Franklin prefers balance – enough fun to enjoy his youth without squandering it. He’s a model of intelligent restraint.

In spite of this quality, our hero searches for the answers behind the “spells” that incapacitate him at the oddest times. These episodes include flashes of memory so vivid he feels as though he is actually there.

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To observers, it appears he is having some sort of neurological episode. But after a lifetime of coping and diagnoses, that explanation seems wrong. Franklin feels as though he’s on the cusp of something extraordinary.

Unexpected support is offered by his adviser, Professor Charles Niemeyer, who confirms the dreams Franklin has had since childhood are proof that he can move through time. Franklin is excited to finally have answers and a guide – when his mentor suddenly dies, leaving behind more riddles than before.

Professor Niemeyer leaves Franklin a strange letter, stating that they will meet again, and an even stranger book. On the cover is the printed title, Franklin Rock: The Man Who Saved the World. The inside is entirely blank. Franklin again is riddled with doubt.

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After graduation, Franklin takes a job as a hospital worker and makes the acquaintance of an elderly cancer patient with a surprising connection to his late professor. This man, Maurice Burnside, becomes his Yoda, opening his mind to possibility and reinforcing the values that will serve humanity.

As Franklin’s powers grow, he begins to travel not just to the past, but also into the future. The turning point comes when Franklin meets the most mysterious person of all – Doranto Durning. Doranto holds the key to Franklin’s most pressing questions about himself and the mystery of the blank book.

There’s a lot to admire about Franklin Rock. The book is a smooth blending of fantasy, science fiction and the “Hero’s Journey”, coupled with the spiritual underpinnings of books of a successful voyage of self-discovery.

Franklin’s enlightenment is shared with the reader, providing us with illumination about the world, our lives, and the meaning of time. It’s the kind of self-care we need right now.

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