Reading Level: Middle Grade
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Mouseheart series
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 3/5 stars
I got a copy of this book from Amazon Vine for review. It looked like an interesting middle grade fantasy adventure featuring animals. It ended up being a pretty run of the mill “pet shop mouse finds a world bigger than he knew and finds his courage to help stop a dastardly rat from ruining the lives of other mice” type of book.
Hopper is just your typical petshop mouse until he is almost fed to a snake. Then Hopper and two of his siblings escape and are swept underground to the world of Atlantia which is primarily inhabited by rats and cats. The rats and cats seem to have an uneasy truce and as Hopper learns more and more about Atlantia he learns that all is not as it seems. He also learns that he has an interesting past that is linked to a group the dwells near Atlantia.
I am honestly not a huge fan of these “animal” stories. I do love Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams and Mouse Guard by David Petersen, but was not a huge fan of the Erin Hunter’s Warriors series of books. Add to that the fact that I am a fan of cats and don’t really enjoy then being portrayed as the “bad guy” and I just didn’t enjoy this book that much.
I think it is something that my seven year old son could read, however he is also a huge cat fan and there are some pretty vicious scenes where cats are ripped up badly that I think would upset him quite a bit. I think that if the scenes were a bit less detailed, they wouldn’t so upsetting. These scenes made me uncomfortable and sad, and I really felt bad for the cats involved (I think I was supposed to be rooting for the mice/rats though).
The writing is very simple and done in very large font…the story falls more under stories for children as far as reading difficulty goes. It is much more simple than other middle grade fantasies I have read. However, as mentioned above some of the fighting scenes are a bit brutal so I don’t really feel like children should read this. All in all I was a bit confused about what age group would read this. It’s a bit too easy for most middle grade readers and too brutal for younger readers.
Also I felt like this is a story I have heard a million times before. A little mouse overcomes great odds and is brave, he uncovers his past, and saves mouse-kind from vicious tyranny. If you enjoy those types of stories then this is not a bad one, but it’s nothing all that great either.
There is some artwork throughout but none of that was finalized in the advanced reading copy that I received, so I can’t really speak to the artwork.
Overall an okay animal story. The story was much more simplistic than most other middle grade fantasies that I read.. It deals with slavery and there are some vicious fight scenes…so probably not appropriate for younger kids. I guess if you are a big fan of “animals as people” type of stories this isn’t a horrible one…but there are much better types of these books out there.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge