Home > children's book, fiction > Kai Zu And The Orphan’s Pyramid: Kamenn Lechiffe

Kai Zu And The Orphan’s Pyramid: Kamenn Lechiffe

August 3, 2011

Kai’s a foster child and he’s turning eleven.
Now, he must compete for a spot in an exclusive orphan boarding school. Hundreds enter the Orphan’s Pyramid. Few reach the top.
It’s not so bad at first. He’s given what every eleven-year-old boy wants: an endless supply of television, video games, and junk food.
But the moment he finds a hidden message from the mysterious Barbeque Captain, he realizes there’s more at stake than just school admission.
As he moves up the Pyramid, the danger increases. A mutant squirrel, a chainsaw-wielding puppet, deadly chalupas, cyborg cockatoos, two man-size rabbits, one plus-size Queen, and several kabuki-masked middle managers are nothing compared to the shocking truth Kai learns in the end…


Kai Zu and the Orphan’s Pyramid is an easy enough read and the story trips along quite nicely; the text is reasonably clean of typos and punctuation problems: but it’s not quite believable (and yes, I realise that this is a fantasy, but all books have to make their readers believe in the worlds that they reveal, no matter what their genres).

The various tasks that the children have to complete are all relatively easy; there is little tension or fluctuation of pace; and many of the episodes recounted have little or no logic behind them and seemed to happen at random, with no real consequences. There’s far too much exposition, and the writer dedicates a lot of page-space to explanations which are simply not necessary; and I am also concerned that this book is far too long and textually dense to sustain the interest of a child in its target age group.

These problems could all be corrected by a strong rewrite and are not serious enough to kill the book: but there is a central problem which I don’t think will be as easy to solve.

Many of the children depicted in this book simply don’t behave in the way that children do. They’re too civilised, too mature, and all too willing to remember and follow the rules. For example, I do not believe that opposing gangs of eleven and twelve-year-olds would resolve their problems without bickering simply by playing a game of dice; nor do I believe that such young children would follow the regimented routines discussed in this book.

The only way I can see that this book to be believable is for its author to rewrite it for a slightly older age group. That way the main characters could also be a few years older, which would answer some of my concerns about the book’s authenticity; and it would allow the author to introduce a more edgy tone and some more believable obstacles, threats, and consequences into the storyline.

Despite having read eighty-seven out of this book’s three hundred and fifty-two pages I cannot recommend it: it’s a slow read with little texture or emotional depth, and with plot holes even I could park a double decker bus in. I wish its writer the best of luck with his publishing career.

  1. cat
    August 3, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Every time I read one of these reviews I wonder what you would make of mine if I dared to self-publish. Then I cringe at the very thought of self-publishing!

  2. jfishler08
    August 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Okay, gotta say I understand how cat feels, you are scary! That said, am feeling bit smug at moment as am critiquing manuscript for online acquaintance which earns none of those negative tags. Is first for me – not first critique, but first time to be so excited about…
    So, here’s to a glorious morning, chapters yet to be devoured – and wishing you the same luck of the draw! 🙂


  3. August 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    You would think a 60 yr old guy would jump at the chance to live in a fantasy world, but I can’t tell you how tired I am of mutant anythings, especially squirrels. Ditto cyborgs, zombies, werewolves, and puppets with chainsaws. I don’t think I could review such a book, even if it were great. Obviously somebody reads these stories, but reality is so interesting, complicated, and important — what’s the point of this stuff? Okay, so I’ve revealed myself to be a curmudgeon, but what other rational response is there a world so set on denial and self-destruction? Okay, I’ll get back to work now… and try to come back with a better attitude.

  4. John
    August 4, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Tags: conflicting tenses, spelling mistakes.

    “many of the episodes have… and seemed…” – sentences switches from present tense to past tense in the middle.

    “don’t think we’ll be as easy to solve” – presumably you mean “will”.

    Be careful throwing stones.

  5. August 5, 2011 at 3:56 am

    I saw the comment about the simple line drawings. I have a very old edition of Voltaire’s “Candide.” (Sorry, John. I can’t underline in the comment section. Sad.) Every page had a simple Art Deco-style line drawing, some quite raunchy. I dearly love that book!

  6. Kamenn LeChiffe
    August 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Jane, thanks for the review. Perhaps I’ll revisit KAI ZU in a few years. I’d like to shave about a hundred pages off this book and give it an edgier tone. In the meantime, I’ve moved on to another genre.

    My latest novel is titled CHIN TESTICLE SAGA (that probably gives you an idea of where I’m headed).

    I love your blog and appreciate all the time you spend reviewing these books. I hope mine wasn’t as painful as most.

    Kamenn LeChiffe

  7. Jane Smith
    August 26, 2011 at 8:40 am

    John (AKA “Friendless Farrell”) wrote,

    “Be careful throwing stones.”

    I’ve corrected one of the things you’ve highlighted but prefer the other how it is.

    I hate to make mistakes and I’m always grateful to be given a chance to resolve them so thank you for pointing them out. As I use voice recognition software because of RSI homophones often appear in my first few drafts and it really irritates me when they get through to the final cut.

    I have very limited time to attend to this blog; I have vision problems which make online proofing very difficult (which is why I won’t review e-books); and this blog is free to read, and it provides free, if sometimes rather hurried, reviews. If I hoped that people would pay me anything for the reviews which appear here I’d work even harder than I do now to ensure that everything was error-free. As it is, I do my best in the limited time I have for this project and hope that the advice I give outweighs the few typos that I make.

  8. jfishler08
    August 27, 2011 at 12:38 am

    That’s sorted. Well said, Jane.

  1. August 9, 2011 at 2:07 am
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