Threshold of Power: The Crusade for Hope Review

Senior Kaden Arnold’s Debut Novel

Brigham Larson

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Senior Kaden Arnolds debut novel Crusade for Hope

Brigham Larson

Senior Kaden Arnold’s debut novel Crusade for Hope

Many within the walls of this school have begun writing their dream novel. Few have
finished, but Kaden Arnold, Highland High senior and yearbook editor, is not your typical
aspiring high school author.
Arnold’s debut novel, The Crusade for Hope, is the first in the Threshold of Power series,
a planned string of young adult sci-fi novels following a group of teenagers taking on a merciless
terrorist dictator in a dystopian wasteland. At first glance, this concept may seem familiar to
anyone who was ever in an eighth-grade English class, however, Arnold sets his novel apart with
a fresh perspective on the genre, as well as a sense of humor that previous novels in this
once-noble tradition have been severely lacking.
The book follows three teenagers: Alex, Jace, and Hope, who live in a future ravaged by
a terrorist force called Bloodweb. After their city is the subject of a brutal attack by Bloodweb
leader Drake and his army of reanimated corpses, a glowing meteorite falls out of the sky and
bestows superpowers upon the three. After Hope is seized by Bloodweb agents during a chaotic
prison escape, Alex and Jace must learn to harness their power and the arsenal of futuristic
technology employed by the resistance to free her.
This book is set apart by two main aspects: its religious perspective on these events and
its sense of humor. The former is due to the faith of the author, who is a member of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In a foreword to the novel, the author writes a truly striking
statement on how this book came to be and how his faith influenced its writing and his plans for
the series’ future. The novel then moves forward, providing a fascinating view of hope and belief
in the face of chaos. As a fellow member of the Church, I definitely appreciated these elements

and the unique viewpoint they provide, particularly given that portrayals of people of faith have a
problematic history in the dystopian genre.
The humor that is displayed in this book was an unexpected surprise. While not explicitly
a humor novel in the traditional sense, the three main characters engage in witty banter amongst
each other frequently. The quality of the writing greatly enhances these moments, and they serve
the valuable purpose of reminding the reader that no matter how heroic and bold their deeds may
be, they’re still just teenagers who can’t resist the urge to wisecrack at every moment, no matter
how inopportune. The only criticism of this element I carry is that the quips occasionally cut into
moments with genuine emotion. However, this is infrequent and not a major concern, especially
given the sheer amount of heartfelt moments throughout the book.
Arnold’s writing should be commended for a number of reasons. The first is that, whether
we want to admit it or not, many high school students possess the very same style of writing,
very wordy and heavy on seemingly random descriptors filtered through Thesaurus.com ad
infintum. Arnold manages to distinguish his voice in this sea of words, penning vivid, exciting
action scenes that are just as disorienting as they are thrilling, still, quiet moments between
characters, and dialogue sequences with nary a cliché to be seen.
My main criticism of this novel would have to be that its pacing can feel slightly off at
times. A significant portion of the novel is dedicated to the training of Alex and Jace to utilize
dangerous sci-fi weapons to take down Bloodweb. I personally feel that some of these scenes
could have been trimmed to allow for a reading experience that flows a lot better, rather than
keeping them in and allowing it to drag slightly at parts. This is especially due to the fact that
many of these scenes are meant as exposition for certain weapons, exposition which could have

been done in a multitude of different ways. It’s certainly not a dealbreaker, but it’s something I
feel Arnold could improve on for future novels in the series.
In the end, Threshold of Power: The Crusade for Hope is a very good novel. It’s sharp,
well-written, exciting, and boasts a truly unique perspective on the teen dystopian genre,
believed by many to be in a decline in a post-Hunger Games world. The characters are
well-rounded, the dialogue is packed to the brim with wit and humor, and the emotional scenes
will truly tug at the heartstrings of any invested reader. But above all, what this novel proves is
that by bearing down and keeping one’s goals in mind, anything can be completed. Even a novel
written by a high schooler in Google Docs.