Wednesday, November 9, 2016
The Viking's Apprentice by Kevin McLeod
This is another book mostly intended for younger readers and, unfortunately, this is the first on of these that I've read that really feels like it. There are plenty of books out there that are intended for younger readers that older ones can enjoy too. Books like Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, even the The School For Good And Evil books that I reviewed awhile back. That's why I picked this book up in the first place. Sadly, while younger readers might enjoy this one okay, I don't really think older readers would enjoy it very much.
This is the story of a young boy named Peter and his best friend George, who are excited to spend their summer holidays with Peter's grandfather Jacob in his luxurious home in Campbell's Cove. What none of them realize is that a horde of trolls and goblins, lead by a mysterious Master, have a terrible plan to kidnap the children of the Cove. It's very fortunate, then, that Peter's Granddad is a centuries-old viking who has the power to put a stop to the evil Master's plan.
First off, it's kind of refreshing that these kids are actually excited to visit a grandparent when so often the kid is grumbling and annoyed about having to do so. The problem is we get over half way through the book before anything really happens. I mean it. Over half of the book is a set up, giving hints about what is to come and these kids just walking around the house and the cove seeing everything that it is humanly possible to see. Once the action starts, however, it does not stop! Seriously, the last half of the book is one long, continuous, never stopping battle. It's almost kind of exhausting to get through, and keep in mind this battle goes on for just one night but the way it's written you'd think it took a week. And the battle comes really out of nowhere. One minute the kids are going to bed and all of a sudden fighting and battle and running and screaming! It's just chaotic.
Also, the title is a bit of a lie. For a book entitled The Viking's Apprentice there's really no apprenticing that goes on in this book. They say that Peter will be his grandfather's apprentice, but there's no training, no lessons, no indication on what being an apprentice will consist of in the future. In this midst of all this chaos they just kinda say, "Hey, guess what? You're going to be a viking too one day. Cool, huh?" and completely ignore it for the rest of the book. Also, Peter's supposed to be the titular apprentice in this book, yet the book focuses way more heavily on George, his best friend. It's like it can't decide who the main character is. Heck, Peter hardly says or does anything in this book. It mostly focuses on George, as he's the one who is seeing Campbell's Cove for the first time and he develops a crush on one of the girls who lives there. It also focuses a lot on Granddad, as he's the leader in this battle and he's the one with the story and who knows what's going on half the time. Peter is just kind of along for the ride. He never does anything. Heck, I think that even the dog does more than Peter. They talk a lot about that dog. To the point where he kind of gets in the way. It's also really confusing when you give your almighty viking character and your dog similar names. There were a few times when I wondered why Granddad was barking before I realized what was really going on. It was pretty distracting.
While there are a lot of cool ideas to be found it this book, the lack of information behind it kind of takes away from the wonder of it all. Yeah, it's really cool when things come to life in the house to form an army, but we're never told why they do. Yeah, these villains are threatening and dangerous, but we're never told why they're doing what they do. It's like the whole thing is one long information dump. We're being told that all this stuff is happening, but it doesn't give us reason to care why these things are happening. Now, a younger reader might not really care about that kind of thing and just enjoy the ride. Like I said, there's imagination and some good ideas in this book. They just aren't executed very well. Maybe if it took it's time a little more, gave it a different title, and for heaven's sake get rid of that stupid dog, we'd I'd have better things to say about this book.
Might be good for kids, but not so much for the grown-ups. Choppy and ill-paced, but still imaginative and containing some good ideas. It's not like there was anything harmful or morally incorrect about this book. I didn't get angry or hate it. I just felt lost a lot. For that reason, if your kid wants to read it, save your cash and check it out at your local library.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Are there any other younger reader books out there that older readers would enjoy? Comment below and share your thoughts.
Next Time: Now, here's a younger reader book that everyone can benefit from....