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The Magnificent 12: The Call Hardcover – August 24, 2010
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*Starred Review* Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Grant sends a lad with a serious case of mediumness up against not only the minions of an ageless and evil Pale Queen but also a truly impressive list of phobias in this opener to the Magnificent 12 series. Prompted by the urgent warnings of an ancient, spectral mage (In just a few months the Dread Foe will be loosed in all her fury, all her rage, all her sphincter-clenching, heart-clutching, throat-gobbling, spit-drying, blood-freezing, bowel-loosening terror!), a murder attempt, and the arrival of plane tickets with a million-dollar debit card, Mack sets out for Australia. This is just the first leg of a mission to gather the other 11 supposed Magnifica necessary to defeat the evil that is about to escape 3,000 years of imprisonment. Hooking up with the first of his allies entails not only long, screaming drops into the ocean (Mack is powerfully thalassophobic) and down a shaft into a cave beneath Uluru (he is also awfully claustrophobic) but also battles with a variety of the queen’s magical warriors and an encounter with her daughter, Ereskigal—an insanely beautiful young sorceress with the eating habits of a female praying mantis. Grant fills out the historical backstory for this promising scenario in alternating flashback chapters, provides a sturdy supporting cast for his reluctant young hero, and keeps up the rapid pace from first page to last. A terrific start, with an elaborate website festooned with games and contests to ease the wait for sequels. Grades 5-8. --John Peters
“A terrific start, with an elaborate website festooned with games and contests to ease the wait for sequels.” (Booklist (starred review))
“A lighter-than-usual fantasy action-adventure that is sure to win many fans and fly off the shelves.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“The story’s abundant action and humor…should win over readers.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A laugh-out-loud story full of adventure and magic great for grades 4-7.” (Morning Call, Allentown, PA)
“Grant’s brand of action and humor should satisfy both those readers who get down with fantasy and those who prefer to send it up.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
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David "Mack" McAvoy is a bright, but average twelve-year-old with caring, but somewhat neglectful parents. When he saves the school bully - Stephan's life by helping stem the flow of blood after the boy puts his arm through a window he is taken under the big brute's wing. Though at first he isn't sure this is a good thing, he's grateful for the protection when an old man shows up informing Mack is fated to be the leader of The Magnificent 12, a group of twelve-year-old's, who through magic must save the world from the evil mother of all monsters, The Pale Queen. He might have ignored the man, but for the aged assassin and monsters who show up at his middle school to kill him. And so Mack and Stephan embark on a journey around the world to locate the rest of the magnificent twelve. But can a group of twelve-year-old's really save the world?
In a way I'm glad that I read the second book in this series before reading the first. Don't get me wrong, it's a good book filled with adventure and some funny scenes, however it pales in comparison to the hilarity of its sequel - The Trap (review to be posted on release date). While this book might have received a higher rating from me than it did, I probably wouldn't have bothered to pick up another book in the series which is very obviously geared to children, not really the type of book meant to expand to include adult interest. The difference between this and The Trap is even though they're both clearly geared toward children The Trap keeps you laughing from beginning to end so you don't really mind the immaturity of the book as an adult reader. This book has funny moments which make you smile, but it doesn't reach the same level of funny as The Trap does.
What makes this adventure novel so appropriate for children is that Grant takes the adventure and makes it out right silly. And though his topics are somewhat violent in nature, he manages to skip the really violent parts by giving the reader two intertwining story lines at the same time. In some chapters you are in the modern world with Mack seeing his world turn upside down. In others you are three thousand years in the past with Grimluk, engaged in a war against the Pale Queen. None of the chapters are really gruesome or gory and parts that you would expect to be scary are so silly in nature that they're laughable. Grant engages in a wonderful method of bringing adventure to children with a distinctive voice and original style. To be honest the book probably deserves a higher rating but it's hard to give it that with the comparison to its sequel so fresh in my mind.
I don't know if I'd so much call the characters well developed, however I would call them memorable. I don't think the characters are meant to be well developed in this story because the more realistic you make them, the less laughable they seem. As the goal of this adventure novel is laughter for once I think this is a positive thing. There's Mack with his numerous phobias freaking out about everything. Stephan, the dumb but brave bully ready to protect him. With a bunch of other characters along the way. My favorite character in this novel is the Golem whose mostly portrayed though journal entries and text messages. Because he has a brain made from mud, clay and magic he takes everything literally. So for example when a teacher asks if Mack is still devouring books, he says yes and promptly eats a book for her then can't understand why he gets in trouble. If everything else in the book was deadly serious, the Golem's passages would still be enough to keep the mood light and children laughing.
Overall this is an excellent tale of adventure and laughter that I believe children, especially boys will love.
This book is wonderful for young adults, but also for adults! The writing is fantastic, I didn't find any typos, only a couple of editing issues.
I highly recommend this book. Be warned though, it's the beginning of a series, so don't expect closure!
Sorry, I have to say skip it.