Release Date: August 18, 2012
Goodreads Rating: 4.35 stars
My Rating (For all three books): 4/5 stars
Content Rating (For all three books): PG -13 (some swearing; in book three the characters have sex, but it is not described in any way; relatively strong violence)
Monsters are real. And living in his backyard.
But that’s not the half of it. After Matt is forced to kill a strange creature to save his uncle, he finds out that the weird knife he took from his uncle’s bag has a secret, one that will change Matt’s life. The knife was designed with one purpose: to hunt monsters. And it’s chosen Matt as its wielder.
Now Matt’s part of a world he didn’t know existed, working with a covert military unit dedicated to eliminating walking nightmares. Faced with a prophecy about a looming dark war, Matt soon realizes his upcoming Algebra test is the least of his worries.
His new double life leaves Matt wondering which is tougher: hunting monsters or asking Ella Mitchell for a date?
Title: Matt Archer: Blade’s Edge (Matt Archer #2)
Release Date: December 27, 2012
Goodreads Rating: 4.49 stars
Including his mom.
Add in a new girlfriend, family secrets, sibling drama and enough homework to sink an aircraft carrier, and Matt’s life has become more complicated than he ever imagined. Worse, the knife has developed some very definite opinions about Matt’s personal life and it interferes in his business whenever it wants. More and more, Matt’s coming to realize that sharing brain-space with a spirit kind of sucks.
When stories of decimated towns and hordes of zombies start pouring into the Pentagon from Afghanistan, Matt knows he’ll be called up soon. Between the new mission and the knife’s increasing control over his mind, Matt wonders if he’ll survive long enough to take his driver’s exam.
Release Date: June 17, 2013
Goodreads Rating: 4.72 stars
Now Matt’s sixteen and the war has cost him more than he ever thought it would. He’s also learned that the knife-spirits have an agenda he doesn’t totally agree with. The only problem? The spirits have the upper hand, and they plan to control the fight—and Matt.
Then things get worse: the next lunar eclipse cycle is starting, a prominent physicist has gone missing, and Matt’s best friend is thinking about quitting the team. If he loses Will—after everyone else he’s lost—Matt’s not sure how he’ll fight alone.
As the source of his nightmares starts to creep out of the shadows, Matt knows he’ll need all the help he can get…because being alone could prove deadly.
I read the first three books of the series for this review, but I’m just going to give all of my thoughts in one review. The Matt Archer series is a high-action fantasy novel aimed squarely at teen boys. This doesn’t mean that teen boys are the only people who will like these books, but I think that they are the target demographic – and I think the books are PERFECT for this audience.
Ironically, I just read a series called Jack Templar: Monster Hunter for my kids’ & middle grade blog, Best Kids’ Reads. I was a bit worried that this would be a little too similar, but it turned out that this book was definitely geared toward an older crowd. This book felt a little darker and grittier and the main characters seemed older than their 14 years. Large portions of the series take place in a military environment (Matt Archer and his best friend Will end up fighting monsters for the military after a magical knife chooses Matt to be its wielder) and the missions felt real and very dangerous.
Issues I had:
- Unbelievable circumstances. In the first book, it took a great deal of suspension of disbelief for me to accept that the military would send two fourteen year-old boys off to fight monsters alone in the woods. I mean, I understood that Matt had been chosen by the knife so they didn’t feel like they had much of a choice where he was concerned and supposedly Matt pressured them into allowing Will to help by saying he wouldn’t do it otherwise, but I just kept wondering why they wouldn’t have sent them with some serious backup at the very least. The reasons given just weren’t strong enough for me and I found myself shaking my head a lot. However, I will say that this issue was mostly resolved for me in books two and three when the boys were more integrated into the military and went up against the monsters with whole teams of Green Berets.
What I loved:
- The monsters. These were some seriously scary monsters who could do a lot of damage. There was always a sense of danger in the books and the military missions were always very intense. If I’m being honest, I occasionally felt myself getting a little bit bored during some of the military scenes, but that’s not because they weren’t well-done. I just think it wasn’t my style. On the other hand, these scenes would probably really appeal to the target demographic. I also liked that there was a lot of backstory and mythology surrounding the monsters that Matt and friends discover along the way. It’s obvious that Highley took the time to do some serious research into world religions and mythologies and then worked hard to blend them into her work in a way that made sense. The world-building was fantastic!
- The romance. The romance in these books was really done well. I thought that it was realistic – I definitely felt like Matt and Ella seemed like real young teens in a real relationship and I liked that. As in most books, there were roadblocks for our young couple, but the obstacles never seemed forced and I never wanted to groan at how either one of the kids were acting when it came to the relationship. It was actually kind of refreshing! The books also had just the right amount of romance for a series like this – the romance was a part of the plot, but definitely did NOT take over the plot. Again, perfect for the target demographic.
- The knife. I loved the dynamic between Matt and his knife. (This might be very slightly spoilery) You find out that the knife is a sentient spirit and it communicates with Matt. Book two and three especially show his struggle to merge with his knife when it’s needed, but not let the knife take over completely. This struggle added a really unique element to the book and I found it very intriguing.
So, in the end, I gave this series 4/5 Stars. If I was a teen boy, I probably would have given it 5/5 stars, though! I will definitely read the rest of the books in the series.
**Disclosure: These books were provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***