Monday, 21 November 2011

The Accidental Hero

Author: Matt Myklusch
Pages: 470
Genre: Young Adult
Type: Paperback
Series: 1st book in the Jack Blank series
Series Order:
  • The Accidental Hero (2010)
  • The Secret War (2011)
  • The End of Infinity (Aug 2012)
Previously Published as: Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation

Synopsis:  Jack Blank is living at the depressing and horrible St. Barnaby's Home for the Hopeless, Abandoned, Forgotten and Lost.  Not only does he not have any friends but he doesn't even know his full name or how he came to live at St Barnaby's.  He spends his days getting picked on by teachers and bullies alike and is usually in trouble because bad things happen when he's around.  His only solace are the comic books that he's secretly stashed away and returns to time and again to take his mind off his bleak life. 

One day Jack is suddenly attacked by a robot that closely ressembles one of the characters in his comic books.  Jack surprises himself by defeating the robot.  Shortly afterwards he is approached by an emissary promising to take Jack away to a place where all imaginative thoughts and ideas come from called the Imagine Nation. 

The Imagine Nation is a special place full of superheros, ninjas, aliens, robots and cool futuristic gadgets.  It's also the only place where there are people who can help Jack harness his very unique abilities.  Unfortunately, soon after arriving Jack learns that he's infected with a deadly alien virus that sends fear throughout the population leaving Jack to feel, once again, like an outcast.  Jack soon learns that his immunity to the virus, which has killed thousands of people in the past, is only one of his super abilities. 

When Revile, the evil alien who terrorized the Imagine Nation in the past resurfaces Jack must discover his past as well as master his newfound powers if he's going to be able to fight against Revile and save the Imagine Nation and the entire world.

My Thoughts:
I picked up this book for my 10 and 12 year old sons strickly based on the title, a quick look at the description and the book cover.  I'm always on the lookout for new reads for my kids.  My boys are particularly adept at judging a book based solely on the front cover so I knew that this book would get their attention.  Plus they adore book series so this was a no brainer. 

So there I was dashing through the brand new library to find my kids some new reads.  OK, truth be told I took about an hour in the new local library full of deliciously brand new reads and I admit that I was literally giddy!!  I was flyin' my Book Nerd flag high and proud that day!  Anyway as soon as I picked up this book I thought my boys would love it.  And they did. 

They loved it so much that they inhaled the first and second books within a couple of days and my 10 year old went out and bought The Secret War with his own money!  They whipped through those two books only to find out from the author (via twitter - how cool is that!?) that the third book won't be out until next August!  Patience, my boys.  I have no doubt that they'll reread both books a couple of times before the next book comes out!

Not only did my boys love this book but I enjoyed it too.  My kids love it when we read the same book.  I love it because we sit down and chat about the book and I'm often surprised at how much detail they remember that my old brain forgets! 

It's no wonder that my boys loved this book.  It's a very imaginative read full of ningas, superheros, magic, robts, technology etc.  It's a world that's vividly described to the reader where, in any given day, you'd find superheros battling it out in the streets.  Where you have androids, humans and aliens living in the same world.  A world which is divided into several distinct areas -- each with their own specific population (my favourite part was Cognito - where people go to disappear.  Get it?  They disappear in Cognito!).

While on the surface Jack's life somewhat mimics my beloved Harry Potter, Myklusch quickly differentiates Jack from Harry.  While both boys are orphans, are rejected by those around them, have odd 'magical' things that they can't explain happen when they're upset and are then whisked off to a place where people understand them .... Myklusch clearly shows the reader that Jack is 'his own man' complete with his own issues and adventures.  What Myklusch and Rowling both have in common is
the ability to vividly create a fantastical world and make it believable as well as creating a main character that the reader can easily get behind and root for.

One of the things that I didn't love about this book was at several points a Yoda-type character paraphrases some famous people who he's met in an attempt to teach Jack.  Unfortunately, I don't think a lot of young adults (like my sons) would know who this character is referring to.  If I'm being honest there was at least one quote that I wasn't sure of who the original author was.  While I appreciate the points that the author was trying to teach (ie "Be the change you want to see in the world", "Knowledge is power.") I'm not sure that having the character throwing in quotes was the way to go.

This book also introduces the reader to several interesting secondary characters as well. I just hope that the reader gets to know them better in future books.  I realize that, as a first book, the author has to introduce not only the characters but this fantastical new world.  I would just love more back story about the characters that surround Jack.  Skerren's past was mentioned but I would have loved to have Skerren describe what happened to him to make him so jaded.

One of my favourite parts of the book were the intense fighting scenes. By 'intense' I don't mean gruesome and bloody. There was one scene between Jack and some robots which was great and full of action and suspense. This Mom of three was on the edge of her seat. More of that in future books, please!! 

Overall, a good start to the series.  My boys have already told me that "The Secret War" is 'even better!" than "The Accidental Hero" so I'm itching to continue on with this series.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of comic books, Rick Riordan's 'Percy Jackson' series, Rowling's 'Harry Potter", superheros -- or anyone with a great imagination.

My Rating: 3.5/5


TheBookGirl said...

I think it's great that your boys like to read so much -- and the fact that you can share enjoyment of the same books is even better!

Angela Scott said...

ANY books that are geared toward boys and get them reading is FANTASTIC. AS a mother of two boys (and a little girl) finding books that interest my boys have been difficult. If there is a girl in the book or on the cover--no way. They don't want anything to do with it.

I do think things are getting better now. I think there is more for boys than there ever used to be.

It's hard for books to compete with video games, so I'm glad to see your love those books. I will have to see if I can get my ten year old excited about them too.

Thanks for the review.

Consider yourself stalked! I'll be back around soon.

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

I know that my boys love that we read the same books. I love sharing that with them too.

Angela -- some other series that my boys like (that yours may be interested in) are:
1. Percy Jackson (Riordan)
2. Harry Potter (Rowling)
3. Bone series (J Smith)
4. Alex Rider series (A. Horowitz)
5. Young Bond series (James Bond as a tween) (Higson)

I agree that there are so many choices out there for boys nowadays. I think it's awesome!! :)

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