Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens
Twelve-year-old Mack MacAvoy suffers from a serious case of mediumness. Medium looks. Medium grades. Medium parents who barely notice him. With a list of phobias that could make anyone crazy, Mack never would have guessed that he is destined for a more-than-medium life.
And then, one day, something incredibly strange happens to Mack. A three-thousand-year-old man named Grimluk appears in the boys’ bathroom to deliver some startling news: Mack is one of the Magnificent Twelve, called the Magnifica in ancient times, whatever that means. An evil force is on its way, and it’s up to Mack to track down eleven other twelve-year-olds in order to stop it. He must travel across the world to battle the wicked Pale Queen’s dangerous daughter, Ereskigal—also known as Risky. But Risky sounds a little scary, and Mack doesn’t want to be a hero. Will he answer the call?
What a fun book! Here’s why. Mack is awesome! He’s this perfect combination of stupid bravery and sheer terror. He’s human, and he’s not your typical hero. The book starts, “David MacAvoy – whose friends called him Mack – was not an unlikely her. He was an impossible hero.” How could you not like a hero described that way? To top it off he has tons of phobias, many of which come into play during the course of the book. I also love that through all his heroic scenes he’s often screaming out of fear. Isn’t that something we’d all do – scream in fear but also react? It made him so much more relateable.
I also loved, loved, loved the humor in the book. I was reading it during silent reading in class one day and the kids were laughing at me because I was giggling and making faces as I read. Not every book gets me doing this. The best parts of the humor come from Mack’s “replacement” Golem. He’s keeping a journal for Mack, and his entries made me laugh every time. I’d almost like to see a book told from Golem’s view point of view. Another funny character was Stefan, the school bully. His lack of smarts made him pretty funny, but I also liked that he didn’t turn out to be what I expected him to be! I love when characters surprise me.
The action in the story was great. My students that needs books with tons of action will defiantly enjoy this book. It jumps from one dangerous situation to another – from avoiding bullies to avoiding death! It rarely slows down. I’ve got a lot of books with good action, but I think the action in this one tied to the humor push it to the top of my suggestion list.
What I really like is how great this book will be for my reluctant readers. The action and humor will be good draws, but the style of the writing will also be great for my reluctant and struggling readers. Michael Grant keeps the writing simple with short sentences that move the action along, even within the more difficult chapters set in the past, all readers will have very little problem following the story.
My one small complaint – it’s very clear that this is the first book in a series. It sets up a lot of what is yet to come and why the events are happening now. All things we need to know, but it doesn’t carry the story much farther. I would’ve maybe liked a bit more indepthness of the current story, but I get why it was written the way it was.
Final Thought: Great story that I can’t wait to get my students reading. They’ll love the humor as well as the action.
Best stick-with-you image: Golem making a stomach 🙂
Best for readers: who love action and laughing
Best for ages: 8-13