Author: Mark Frost
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Series: The Paladin Prophecy, book one
Source: Requested audiobook for review
Narrator: Nick Chamian
Audiobook Publisher: Listening Library
Length: 15 hours, 39 minutes
About the Book: Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents' insistence, he's made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross-country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam.
Now Will is being courted by an exclusive prep school . . . and is being followed by men driving black sedans. When Will suddenly loses his parents, he must flee to the school. There he begins to explore all that he's capable of--physical and mental feats that should be impossible--and learns that his abilities are connected to a struggle between titanic forces that has lasted for millennia.
Co-creator of the groundbreaking television series Twin Peaks, Mark Frost brings his unique vision to this sophisticated adventure, which combines mystery, heart-pounding action, and the supernatural.
My Thoughts: All I could think while listening to this audiobook was, "Man. My students are going to love this!" Having said that, I do have to confess... I didn't. Don't get me wrong; I liked it. I think I was just over thinking it? I don't really know how to explain it (Seriously. You might just want to stop reading now. I fail at writing this review!)
There was a certain suspension of belief that needed to occur for me to not question much of what was happening. I mean, obviously there is the fantastical element... that's not what I'm talking about. I loved that. It was more the every day life stuff. For example, what teenager follows every rule their parents give them without question? Or, and I may be wrong here because I have no first hand experience with boarding schools, what boarding school has co-ed student living arrangements (like guys and girls sharing a mini apartment?) Would a school really run a battery of medical tests on a student before they got the students medical records and just on the 15-year-old student's word that they had parental consent? These are the kinds of things that kept me from loving this one. There are other small examples but I don't want to give plot points away and I did like it overall so I don't want to make it seem like I didn't enjoy it!
There were many elements of this story that are right up my alley... boarding school, secret society, smart teens, "extra" abilities, humor, a bit of history, and, to top it all off, much of the book takes place in Wisconsin. Yay for my home state! Also, it's fast paced with lots of action scenes and mysterious happenings. This is why I see my students totally loving it. I have two copies on order for my LMC!
Thoughts on the audiobook: Nick Chamian is a great narrator. I recently listened to Rick Riordan's Heroes of Olympus: The Demigod Diaries which has the first short story narrated by Chamian. He does a great job there as well but it meant that for the first bit of this book I kept expecting characters from the Percy Jackson books to show up! Chamian does a nice job with the different characters. He gives them each a voice but doesn't let it "overpower" them (i.e. their dialects don't get in the way of being able to understand them!) If you're an audiobook fan this one holds up well!
Note: As I think more about this I wonder about Coach Jericho. He is said to be Oglala Lakota and rumored to be a descendant of Crazy Horse. If I understood the story right it makes reference to his ancestors having been on the land where the school is for generations. I am fairly certain that the Oglala Lakota did not have a significant population (if any) in Wisconsin. Also, if I remember correctly from the Native American history and literature courses I took in college, Crazy Horse only had one child and she died around age three. So he couldn't have a great, great, great, great (etc...) grandchild, correct? I say all this because I am genuinely curious. I know that facts certainly don't get in the way of rumors spreading amongst teens! Still, anyone know more about these ideas?