Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review: The Avatar Battle by Chad Morris

The Avatar Battle by Chad Morris
Series: Cragbridge Hall #2
Genre: Sci-fi (MG)
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Review of book 1 (The Inventor's Secret)

The adventure continues when Abby and Derick begin second semester at Cragbridge Hall, the most prestigious secondary school in the world. But when Grandpa Cragbridge admits them to the Council of Keys--a secret group of people who have keys to travel back in time--strange things begin to happen. One by one, members are found unconscious and unable to wake, their keys stolen. Now Abby and Derick must scramble to figure out who is behind the attacks before they become the next victims, which would give their enemy the power to change the past forever.

First, you've gotta know something about me. I don't read many Middle Grade books. I've read a few, but they usually wind up sounding too immature and juvenile for me. I'm not going to name names, but there's this super popular series that I couldn't get past the first book of for that very reason.

There's a lot to recommend this series, and this book is even better than the first.

This picks up sometime after the first book, at the end of Abby and Derick's first semester at Cragbridge Hall. They're both settling in well, though not quite as well as either hoped.

In this book, a lot of focus is on the character development of Abby and Derick. Abby spends most of the book afraid and must overcome that if she's to save her family. Derick, on the other hand, spends a good portion of the book obsessed with being the best and must get past that if he's to help a friend.

Also, just like the first book, the adults and children respect each other. There's none of that 'adults are useless' 'adults won't listen' 'children don't know anything' that seems so prevalent in MG and Young Adult.

However, even for how well the adults and children work together, it does (as it should in a Middle Grade book) come down to the children saving the day. However, the only reason they were able to was because they were underestimated for being children. Hmm... sounds like the villain could stand to learn a little something.

I like the people in this series. While typically the kids in MG lack backstories and history (after all, there's little backstory and history for a twelve year old - unless you go the orphan direction) all these characters are likable. There's a good amount of development to them. (And, I admit, I was quite happy to find out more of Rafa's backstory.)

The plot, much like the first in the series, started to follow typical roads and I figured certain things out long before the characters did. However, there was a couple of very nice plot twists that I never saw coming, so it all balances out.

Finally, there were a couple of moments that really gave me a strong emotional payoff. I think that's what was missing for me in the first book. In this one, though, I was more involved with the characters and - I don't know if this is because the author was more experienced or simply because I'd already spent one full book with these people) I felt for them a lot more than in the first book.

So, I highly recommend this series to anyone that wants to get in touch with their inner child, anyone that knows a child that likes sci-fi or boarding school books. And this book certainly recommend to everyone that liked The Inventor's Secret.