My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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I really did not know what I was getting into when I picked up this book to read. The only thing I knew was that it is absolutely and completely outside the genres I generally read. Why did I pick it up then? For one, I have been trying to expand my reading by getting into completely different genres. You will most likely see me reviewing a chick-lit soon! Also, I imagined this to be a ‘superhero book’ and I just couldn’t pass up that opportunity. So, here’s what I found out through this experiment. I can read genres other than fantasy / sci-fi / mystery and like them. Also, I found that this book which is suitable for 9-12 year olds to be very interesting. And lastly, this IS a book about superheroes, but not in the traditional “flying, super strength and crime fighting” sense.
Nate is a normal 10-year-old. He has all the problems which every kid that age faces. He does not like sports and is always picked last for everything. His sister, Abby takes pleasure in torturing him at every opportunity. He tries to run away from his mother’s horrible cooking, but rarely succeeds. His mother insists on making his Halloween costumes even though she can’t sew. His dad is quite cool, but he keeps reminiscing about his childhood and boring the kids with oft-repeated stories. And finally, there is the bane of his life, his classmate Lisa Crane who he just can’t stand.
So what does he do to escape from all these problems? Nate has a passion for drawing and gets lost in the world he creates and draws as cartoons. In fact he keeps getting into trouble as this results in him daydreaming in school, at home, with friends and even while playing games. His stories, which are inspired by life around him, feature him as the hero routinely saving the world from destruction or helping the President in finding a spy. I really liked the fact that in each chapter, we find Nate going on another adventure in this world which he creates. I think this will keep the young readers interested, as they move from one adventure to the next. This also allows the book to be read in parts and helps in kids not getting bored with the story. The author has done a wonderful job of tying these discrete adventures into a wonderful story.
All the characters in the book fit perfectly in their roles and no one seems out of place or forced. Although the story is about a normal family with normal issues, the story moves through at a fast pace and does not drag anywhere. This, I think should be necessary for all MG books. Any place where the story lets up even a little bit can result in kids losing interest and not wanting to push through those sections. With kids reading less every day, a book which can keep them hooked throughout should definitely garner interest from parents.
Finally, I’d like to say that I loved the ending. While reading the book, I was hoping that the ending does not fizzle out. The author definitely did not let me down on that count. When the time comes and real life calls Nate to action, does he step up to the plate and deliver? Can he be a real life hero and actually save the day? Will he be able to step out of his imaginary world, into the real one and do the right thing? I won’t give the ending away, and I’d ask you to read the book to find out. All I will tell you is, I loved the ending where two enemies finally seem to become friends, if only for a little while.
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