Reading Level: Middle Grade
Size: 208 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Spirit Animals series
Rating: 4/5 stars
This is another one of those books that I am reading because my son read it and wants me to read it too. It was a good start to a new middle grade fantasy series. My eight year old son loves this series and I also thought it was a good start to a new series. This is the first book in the Spirit Animals series; there are currently seven books in this series.
This book introduces us to four different kids. The first is Conor who ends up bonded to the wolf Briggan much to his surprise. We also meet Akebe who finds herself bonded with Uzara the leopard and quickly develops an excellent relationship with Uzara. Then we meet Meilin who is the daughter of a General and has trained to fight much of her life; she is bounded to a giant panda named Jhi and they have a rocky start to their relationship. Lastly we meet Rollan who is a thief who bonds with the Falcon Essix. The four of these kids must learn to work with their bond animals and with each other if they are going to prevent Erdas from falling into war and darkness.
This book pretty much just introduces the four main characters and sets up the story for continuation in the next book. Honestly the introduction of the four kids was a bit repetitive for me, but my son really enjoyed it. The four kids do have very distinct personalities and were fun to learn about. The Spirit Animals were interesting as well; my favorite was Jhi the giant panda who, despite her bumbling appearance, seems to be wise beyond her years. I also enjoyed Briggan and how fun loving he was.
The kids are basically struggling to learn how to bond with their Spirit Animals. Connor and Briggan seem to have the easiest time of it but Connor can’t get Briggan into passive form. Jhi and Meilin have no rapport together and Meilin keeps Jhi in passive form (as a tattoo on her arm) for a good portion of the story. Akebe and and Uzara seems to work together fairly well. Rollan and his falcon Essix have a much more distant relationship.
The book is easy to read, well written, and engaging. It is fairly predictable and I thought the first half of the book (where everyone is introduced) was a bit slow. However, my eight year old loved this story and the way the characters were introduced. So I think this is going to be a book that is better for younger readers.
I enjoyed the last portion of the book a lot more. Our characters finally come together and we start to get glimpses of the bigger issues in Erdas and the larger story.
Overall this is a great start to a new fantasy series for middle grade aged readers. My eight year old really loved it. I found that the beginning of the story was fairly repetitive, predictable, and not all that creative. However, I am not the intended audience (although I do read a ton of middle grade books). I think this is a series that is going to be great for kids, I did enjoy the end of the story so I am going to read the next couple books and then evaluate whether it’s a good series for adults too.
On a side note this book is being marketing as a “multi-platform” experience. So the book does include codes for an online game where you create a character in the world of Erdas. That is something we haven’t looked at doing yet, but I do plan to set it up so that my son can try that out as well.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge