(No actual dueling—or even arm-twisting—was involved. Don’t worry, this is a dual review, not a duel review. Sorry if you’re disappointed.)
Danielle Hammelef was the latest winner of my Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up “Make Me Read It” giveaway, and she chose to make me read The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White. I’ll confess that I hadn’t given this book much thought it awhile, but it turned out to be a fantastic selection! I read the book and then sent it along to Danielle, and we did a dual review together.
Read on to see what we thought of the book…
The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White
Illustrator: Mariano Epelbaum
Series: Saint Lupin's Quest Academy for Consistently Dangerous and Absolutely Terrifying Adventures #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 13, 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
My content rating: MG (Some MG-level violence)
Anne has spent most of her thirteen years dreaming of the day she and her best friend Penelope will finally leave Saint Lupin's Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children. When the big day arrives, a series of very curious happenings lead to Anne being charged with an epic quest. Anne, Penelope, and new questing partner Hiro have only days to travel to strange new locales, solve myriad riddles, and triumph over monstrous foes--or face the horrible consequences.
Oh, my goodness, this book is delightful, and we both loved it! I am so thankful that Danielle made me read it.
What Fed Our Addiction:
The humor! This book is delightfully witty—I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much when reading. And it’s the kind of humor that both kids and adults can appreciate. I can tell you for sure that would have adored this book when I was a middle grader (it made me nostalgic for the Robert Asprin and Terry Pratchett books I read as a kid). Not only is the MC’s voice fun, but there are hilarious tongue-in-cheek notes from a narrator between each chapter as well.
This is my favorite kind of book—one that can make me laugh out loud and even run to my husband and read him parts because I just couldn’t keep the cleverness to myself (and yes, I actually did this). I started marking my favorite humorous parts, but then realized that most of them were the narrator notes Nicole mentioned. The others were heavily sprinkled (maybe poured since there were so many?) throughout this outrageously sarcastic and fun book. I have another favorite series that is just like this that I keep all the hardcovers front and center in my office—The Name of This Book Is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch is the first book in this hilarious series. Now I have another.
Full of adventure. That title doesn’t lie. Anne and her friends end up on a high-stakes quest that could start their careers as adventurers … or kill them. They have to face down dragons, zombie sharks, sand wolves, ancient robots and more. And they have only their wits, a wooden sword, an old gauntlet, and some wayward magic to get them through it all. The pacing in this story is brilliant—our adventurers are always on the edge of failure, but they never feel like a lost cause.
I remember thinking to myself while reading: “there is no way the author can top this peril” or “how in the world will Anne and her friends get out of this situation?” But the author surprised me EVERY time. Innovative adventure/problem solving for sure.
Imaginative worldbuilding. I was able to imagine this world perfectly—though I’m finding it hard to describe. It consists of a series of magically floating land masses, each with its own unique features and culture. Plus, I love the discoveries we make about this universe and its beginnings. The magic system is fun and unique, and there were constantly new discoveries to be made!
The world inside this book became real to me from page one of the “Sort of Prologue.” It masterfully combined real-world aspects (yes, many were stretched for humorous purposes) and a world where magic and mystical creatures were everyday occurrences.
Full of surprises. This was one of those books that kept me guessing. Even the tropes had fun twists to them. The ending was especially surprising. Just when I thought I had some idea of where Anne’s quest was going to lead, it took a sharp turn that made the story even more rich and intriguing. We got a satisfying ending that still kept me wanting more! (Luckily, there is more!)
Yes, yes, yes! This was one of my favorite parts of the plot. When an author can surprise me with twists like this, I’m a fan. I agree about the ending, Nicole.
What Left Us Hungry for More:
Help me out here, Danielle. I don’t know—this was one of those books that kept me so entertained that I just couldn’t focus on any of the negatives. I put this book down and just wanted to pick it right back up again!
I’m just hungry for book 2 NOW: The Adventurer’s Guide to Dragons (and Why They Keep Biting Me) (Saint Lupin’s Quest Academy for Consistently Dangerous and Absolutely Terrifying Adventures #2). And (shouting here) BOOK 3 is due out in January 2019: The Adventurer’s Guide to Treasure (and How to Steal It).
P.S. Nicole, aren’t you happy I “Made You Read It?” ?
Oh, yes, I am definitely glad you made me read this book. This is one of those cases where I had a true gem sitting on my bookshelf for years, just waiting for me to pick it up so I could discover its amazingness!
What more can we tell you? If you’re a fan of humorous middle grade with an adventurous kick, you need this series in your life!
***Disclosure: Nicole received this book from the publisher via BEA 2016 in exchange for an honest review (and Danielle got it from Nicole!). No other compensation was given and all opinions are our own.***
About the Author
Wade Albert White hails from Nova Scotia, Canada, land of wild blueberries and Duck Tolling Retrievers. He teaches part-time, dabbles in animation, and spends the rest of his time as a stay-at-home dad. It is also possible he has set a new record as the slowest 10K runner. Ever. He owns one pretend cat and one real one, and they get along fabulously.
Have you read this one? What did you think? We want to know!