Series: Society of Explorers and Adventurers #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on April 26, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Source: Blog Tour, The Publisher
My content rating: MG (Some MG-level violence)
Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coatl is the first book in a globe-trotting adventure that combines high-tech wizardry, old-world legends and a little bit of magic.
Shinji Takahashi is just an ordinary kid. An ordinary homeschooled smart-alecky orphan kid being raised by his aunt Yui. But when a magical guardian decides to use him as a conduit to awaken its power, Shinji’s life takes a turn for the extraordinary. Captured by the menacing Hightower Corporation, which is bent on using the guardian’s magic for its own nefarious purposes, Shinji must team up with a brilliant young tech whiz named Lucy and her robot mouse, Tinker, to escape the Corporation’s evil clutches.
Together Shinji and Lucy turn to the venerable Society of Explorers and Adventurers and its ragtag cast of spelunkers, hackers, mapmakers, pilots, and mythology experts (among other things) to return the guardian to its rightful home and release Shinji from its magic—which seems to be draining his life force. Time is ticking, the Hightower Corporation is hot on their tail, and success or failure might depend on one small thing—Shinji finally coming around to the belief that he is anything but ordinary.
Based on the Society of Explorers and Adventurers lore that exist across the Walt Disney Parks, Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coatl is the first book in an all-new action-adventure series that brings S.E.A. into the twenty-first century through a blend of science and magic, and a focus on two young characters on an epic journey through time and place.
I’m a huge fan of Kagawa’s YA books, so I was excited to see what her MG has to offer, and I was definitely not disappointed. Apparently this book is a spin-off of existing Society of Explorers and Adventurers lore that you can find in the actual Disney theme parks. I didn’t know anything about that storytelling, but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book (and I’m actually headed to Disney World in June, so now I’m motivated to specifically look for SEA-related attractions when I go).
In this tale, a boy named Shinji finds a figurine of a coatl (a serpentine dragon) and immediately finds himself under attack by evil henchmen who want to take it from him. He tries to escape but instead ends up kidnapped and under the coatl’s curse. A girl named Lucy helps Shinji escape his kidnappers and then the two go to the SEA for help, which leads them on a deadly adventure through a Mesoamerican jungle!
The book is fast-paced, and it’s also full of twists and turns and plenty of danger! And there’s always a question of who Shinji can trust (sometimes he’s not even sure he can trust himself since his curse supposedly includes hallucinations). Those mysteries will keep kids turning the pages. And I love that Shinji is a Japanese American character, but the book isn’t about that at all – it’s almost not even mentioned. That’s not to say I don’t love it when I see culture on the page, but kids need to see themselves reflected on the page in all different ways. Not every Asian kid has the same lived experience. Shinji’s adventurous and carefree aunt breaks all the stereotypes of the overbearing Asian parent, which is nice to see sometimes.
This book is a complete story, but Kagawa left the door open for future books in the series, and I can’t wait to read them!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Rockstar Book Tours and NetGalley so I could provide an honest review. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Julie Kagawa is the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series. She was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel. She worked as a professional dog trainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time. Julie now lives in North Carolina with her husband, two obnoxious cats, and a pair of Australian Shepherds that have more Instagram followers than she does.
1 winner will receive a finished copy of SHINJI TAKAHASHI AND THE MARK OF THE COATL, US Only.
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