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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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Book Review: The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate by Eric Bower

I am usually quite the fan of middle grade and young adult books. First, because I enjoy fantasy, and so many of them have fantastic elements. But second, and more importantly, because when writing for children, authors cannot fall back on as many tropes in order to generate action/interest. The graphic violence and sexual explicitness that so many adult authors rely on to (they think) make their stories pop or speed up the pacing, aren’t present in books aimed at younger readers. Which means that the authors who write for younger audiences can’t rely on props to aid their flagging stories – they need to write cleaner, stronger stories that have action without gratuitous “help” from the crutches of sex and violence.

I said usually.

Unfortunately, this is an instance where the exception proves the rule. NOT to say, AT ALL, that there’s anything gratuitously violent or sexual here, since there 100% is not. Rather, to say that there is very little of the “cleaner, stronger story” about it…

The concept is fun and cute – a regular boy with crazy inventor parents finds himself embroiled in their adventure, which ultimately becomes his adventure, when they turn the family home into a flying machine to enter a round-the-world contest. Oh, yes, and lest I forget – this all happens in the late 1800s. Sounds cute and clever and full of potential, right? I certainly thought so. Unfortunately, the “villain” turns out to be the most interesting character – and that’s not saying as much as it sounds like, because even she’s not all that interesting.

The quirky parents are stereotypically so. So is the regularity of the regular boy. Even the villain-with-a-heart-of-gold is straight out of the wikipedia definition of a character archetype. And the story packed around them is not really any more unusual or action-packed than they, themselves… I saw a GoodReads comment about this one, suggesting that if the book had been written from Rose’s (the so-called “villain” of the piece) point of view, it would have been much more interesting. I’m inclined to agree – although not sure if even that would have been enough to bring it into the realm of a great children’s story. It moved way too slowly for that. It’s not a long book, but I felt like I was reading it forever – it just never hit its stride…

My review copy was provided by NetGalley.

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