Tuesday, August 7, 2012

MG Book Review: The King's Ransom, by Cheryl Carpinello

(Young Knights of the Round Table Series, #1)

General Information
Publisher:  MuseItUp Publishing
Year of publication:  2012
# of chapters:  18
# of pages: (e-book)
Genre:  Historical/Adventure

Plot summary:  (from back cover)
At Pembroke Castle in medieval Wales,11-year-old Prince Gavin, 13-year-old orphan Philip, and 15-year-old blacksmith's apprentice Bryan, brought together in friendship by the one they call The Wild Man, embark upon a quest to save The Wild Man’s life when he is accused of murder and robbery. If they have any hope of succeeding, the three will have to confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all. But it is the arrival of King Arthur and what he reveals that surprises characters and readers.

Next book in the series: (not yet released)

Positive Points
The setting and historical elements made the story interesting and believable. The additional information in the teacher's guide that came with the book and the fact that the author wrote other books related to King Arthur give me the confidence that a lot of research went into this book. I enjoyed visiting King Arthur's era and seeing the appearance of the king himself at the end of the book.

The three characters at the heart of the story were well developed. Each had unique personality traits, and each went through character growth throughout the book, pursuing a strong aspiration or overcoming fear and doubt. I can tell the author has a good grasp on POV. The story alternates among Gavin, Philip, and Bryan's POVs. The story couldn't have been told otherwise, as each had different quests and they were not always together. Because of these multiple POVs, it was harder for me to really connect with the characters at a deeper level, but it was so well done that I'm ready to overlook what could have been a negative point.

This book was packed with surprises and interesting elements: secret quests, hidden identities, murder mystery, shocking twists and turns. The surprise twists were really unexpected, but looking back at the previous chapters, I could see that it all made perfect sense. I re-read a few parts and thought, How could I have not seen this coming? Wow! O. Henry would have been impressed.

The novel came with a teacher's guide filled with information about medieval England, comprehension questions, a word puzzle, writing exercises, and a lot more. I'd be excited if I were a teacher. The book contains interesting historical elements, which are already a good teaching tool, but the teacher’s guide complements the book and helps the students dig deeper into each aspect of the story, learning about history and writing all at once. I love the idea. Maybe I’ll make a teacher’s guide for my novel too. 

Negative Points
A few parts were confusing to me. When Philip recalls a conversation with the queen, it wasn't clear to me that it was a flashback. When his friends startled him out of his thoughts, I wasn't sure if he had just dreamed that conversation or if it really happened.  Another part that may need clarification: What made the boys decide The Wild Man wasn't guilty? One moment they ponder on the possibility that he might be the murderer, the next they swear their lives to prove him innocent. I would have liked a little more thought process or evidence to really convince me that he wasn't guilty.

At times, I was hearing the author's voice, not the characters' voices. Also about voice, some of the characters sounded basically the same. They all used the same expressions, such as "bloody," and spoke the same way. I would have liked to see a more distinct voice for each.

Other than these two minor points, I really have nothing negative to say about this book. Very good read!

What makes this book unique
The historical elements related to King Arthur made this book stand out from other MG books. The teacher's guide is a valuable tool for teachers wanting to read this book in class.

Overall Impression
Awesome read! This story would appeal to boys in particular. I love books that are entertaining, but that also teach something, without being “preachy”. This book accomplishes that very well.

My Rating:

Thinking of purchasing this book? I'll make it easy for you:


Jess said...

This one sounds right up my alley!

Annie McMahon said...

You should read it, Jess! :)

Tonja Drecker said...

I've always had a soft spot for King Arthur stories. Guess I'll have to check this one out!

Sue @ Kid Lit Reviews. said...

Excellent review! One of the best reviews I have seen online, except for maybe my own. No, I think this is the best. :-)

Hi, I am new to your site and I am impressed with the King's Ransom review. I too am on this tour and like to go to all the sites and say hello, when I have time. I am following your blog.

I like your voice and command of what makes a good book. I also like that you are not afraid to write negative points. The review is a good length, though I may be a minority in that view, but a one paragraph review is never enough. If you ever need a book reviewed, I think I would enjoy reading what you write.

I am on word press but my open ID never works. Here is the url http:// kid-lit-reviews.com. If you get a moment, stop by and tell me what you think.

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