Tag Archives: middle grade

Book Review: Wonderboy by Nicole Burstein

Published August 2016 by Andersen Press.

27430362Goodreads Synopsis: A funny and frank superhero story set in the world of Othergirl.
Joseph ‘Wilco’ Wilkes is one of life’s loser’s – he’s picked on, pushed around, and bullied by the rugby boys at the posh private school he attends on a scholarship. But his life is about to change: Wilco learns he can move things with his mind. Will this be his chance to play the hero, get the girl and finally stand up for himself? Or are things just going to come crashing down around his head? Becoming a proper hero will be quite the leap of faith…

My Review: I absolutely adored Othergirl, Nicole Burstein’s debut novel – so when I discovered her second book was coming out, I was eager to give it a go!

I dove into this thinking it was a sequel to Burstein’s debut – but it’s in fact simply set in the same world as Othergirl – a world much like ours, but with global network of superheroes called the Vigils. Wonderboy can be read as a standalone novel – though, to appreciate a couple of scenes even more, it’s definitely worth reading Burstein’s first book too!

I really loved reading about the alternate world this is set in. Burstein visibly draws on her love of X-Men, but her universe is hardly a knock-off of the franchise; it’s really enjoyable and brilliant fun – from each of the Vigils, to their secret operations and offices. I love how the classic elements of a superhero story have been taken straight from all my favourite comics, and reworked to create a fantastic novel: it’s not cliche, it feels like a fresh new perspective on classic superheroes. A homage to comics. 🙂

I love that, despite Wonderboy being a brilliantly adventurous story, it’s still down to earth in the sense that it addresses some serious topics as well. Quite cleverly, when Joseph reveals his identity, it mirrors coming out in a couple of scenes, which I thought was actually a very cool and important thing to do, especially for an audience of young readers. Joseph’s life also really well explored, and we learn lots of things about his life that are the reason why he is bullied; for instance, how his mum doesn’t have very much money, so he’s in a private school on a scholarship that is looked down upon.I really liked how Burstein wrote about this so realistically.

It is so hard to not love the characters. Of both books Burstein has written, I have adored all of the protagonists. They’re just fantastic!  Joseph was really relatable, I think, and such a well fleshed-out character. Although we didn’t see very much of him ‘in action,’ (this is more of a story about him discovering his powers) I grew to love reading about him.

Overall, Wonderboy was a really brilliant read, from an author I know will be only be gaining more and more attention in the world of fiction. Nicole is a fantastic writer, and has crafted yet another enjoyable story in her instant-classic superhero world. Fingers crossed there’ll be another title soon!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of Wonderboy from the publisher, via Lovereading4kids, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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Book Review: Boy X by Dan Smith

Published February 2016 by Chicken House.

28425665Goodreads Synopsis: Kidnapped and drugged, Ash wakes up on a remote tropical island. His mum – a genetic scientist – has been imprisoned and infected with a deadly virus. Where is he, and what’s he doing there? He sets out to cross the jungle to find out and rescue his mother. Soon he realises he’s quicker and sharper than before. But there’s something else …why are the animals watching him, and how can he use the jungle to his advantage?

My Review: Dan Smith is a fantastic author, and I was so excited to hear about Boy X, his latest book! I made time to read it as soon as my copy arrived, as I was really interested by the synopsis.

Boy X begins when Ash McCarthy wakes up, a week after his father’s funeral, in a mysterious island lab where chaos has broken out. Confused and afraid, he meets Isabel, daughter of another scientist trapped and infected. Together, they have to face the depths of this peculiar jungle, racing against the clock to find the cure for the virus.

As always, Dan Smith’s writing is brilliantly paced and addictive – I read most of the book in one night, totally disregarding school work, because I was really eager to see the mystery unravel. I really enjoyed the plot – it’s gripping, but not overly complex so I think the story will appeal to a lot of different age groups.

The characters were really awesome – Ash and Isabel made a great team fighting their way across the jungle to work out the truth about the virus. I really loved their chemistry. It’s a little hard to talk about why I loved Ash without spoiling elements of the story – but I did really enjoy his back story and how well he tied into everything.

Overall, Boy X was a really fantastic read – it will definitely appeal to lots of readers, from MG fans to adults! Every book I read from Dan Smith just gets better and better. I can’t wait to see what he writes next. Recommended!

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of Boy X from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Imaginary by A. F. Harrold (Illustrated by Emily Gravett)

Published October 23rd by Bloomsbury.

22443909Goodreads Synopsis: Rudger is Amanda’s best friend. He doesn’t exist, but nobody’s perfect.
Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda’s door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he’s sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up?
A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and colour spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.

My Review: I opened The Imaginary looking forward to a really cute story about friendship, and intending to read just the first few chapters before I did some blogging. I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting, and getting what wasn’t quite a cute story, but a beautifully told tale full of hope, friendship, terror and adventure. Pageturner is definitely the right word to describe it: I simply couldn’t stop reading… And there was a surprise around every corner, none of which I was expecting.

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The Imaginary is marketed as an Middle Grade book, but I’m confident that teenagers and adults will fall in love with the story too – it’s got lots of crossover appeal. The plot was actually quite a bit darker than I was expecting – the antagonists were really freaky and sent shivers up my spine. However, the eerie elements of the story contrasted with the beautiful aspects of friendship and the power of imagination.

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The characters were perfectly crafted and realistic: Amanda and her imaginary friend, Rudger, are truly unforgettable. Amanda is such a bubbly and bright character, and her personality made me love her instantly! Rudger was everything I’d love in an imaginary friend for myself, and I was unable to put the book down, wanting to know what he did next.

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The story was captivating by itself, but Emily Gravett’s illustrations brought it to life. The character depictions were just as I would have seen them in my mind if the story wasn’t illustrated. I loved poring over the gorgeously detailed spreads. The use of Black and White versus colour was a very clever and pretty way of depicting normality/reality versus imagined worlds, too. I hadn’t seen any of Emily Gravett’s work before but after The Imaginary I’d love to read more MG books with her illustrations!

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Overall, The Imaginary was a really stunning book and definitely exceeded my expectations. As soon as I’d started it, I didn’t want to stop reading – and as soon as I’d finished it, I wanted to flip back to the start to read it again! A F Harrold’s writing was fantastic; it’s sad, sinister, unforgettable and magical-feeling all at once – perhaps a little nostalgic too for everyone who’s had an imaginary friend. I really recommend Harrold & Gravett’s book – whether you’re an MG reader or older, looking for a very beautiful and captivating book.

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Imaginary from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

*unrelated note: I have been so busy, with school ending, and working at a school summer project, and other things, that I haven’t posted a book review in almost a month… *hangs head* Sorry D: But now I’ve finished school-related things properly, I’ll hopefully be neglecting the blog a lot less! Yay! (:*

Published September 2014 by Doubleday books.

13608989Goodreads Synopsis: From NEW YORK TIMES best-selling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

My Review: 

I started The Iron Trial really excitedly. I’m a big fan of both Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, so I thought that both of them collaborating on a book was a brilliant idea! For the first half of the book, though, I did struggle to get into the story… I definitely had a few issues with the story but towards the end I did enjoyit.

I did really like the characters- namely Call, who’s the main protagonist. As this is an MG book, and the start of a series, I think lots of younger readers are going to grow up loving him and the rest of the students at the Magisterium.

I grew to really enjoy Magisterium, but, mainly for the first half, there were so many points where I got agitated by it. I just found so many parallels to Harry Potter – wizards hiding in plain sight in an ordinary world, secret school, trio of kids (on the front cover) who look a little too much like Harry, Ron and Hermione… yup. (I know the themes are in lots of books, but still…) There were some really great plot twists, mainly towards the end, that made me grow to love the story a lot more, but for the first couple of hundred pages, I was a bit disappointed, because of the similarities.

Okay, ignoring the negative aspects for now; I really did loved the writing! I enjoy Cassie’s writing and adore Holly Black’s, so the two put together was just awesome. They’ve adapted their voices really well for an MG audience, I think. I will probably carry on reading the Magisterium series, as I love their joined writing style.

Overall, I did enjoy Magisterium, but it definitely didn’t live up to what I’d expected. The writing was superb and will definitely draw readers in, but the storyline didn’t do the same for me. I think, growing up with Harry Potter, I’m a little protective of it, so I just disliked reading a very similar story. However, after the twists at the end, I hope that the rest of the series will have a more original sound – I’m sure I’ll be making time for the sequel when it comes out!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of Magisterium: The Iron Trial from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Review-Graphic: The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas

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Sorry for the relatively short review graphic… I had to make this in a bit of a rush between revision-y things because it’s the start of the exam season! But, honestly, I can’t recommend The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas enough- one brilliant author, one brilliant illustrator, one fantastic MG read (: