Are you one of those “nerds” who loves D&D? Do you ever imagine yourself going on an adventure to kill a dragon? This is your chance to do just that…
Adventurers Wanted #1
by M.L. Forman
Published February 1st 2009
by Shadow Mountain
“The sign is small, tucked into the corner of Mr. Clutter’s bookshop window: “Adventurers Wanted. Apply Within.” No one but fifteen-year-old Alex Taylor even seems to notice it is there. And for Alex, who has wished for a change in his life, it is an irresistible invitation.” And away we go on an exciting adventure with Alex when he joins as the 8th with a group seeking the legendary dragon treasure of Slathbog the Red. Along the way he learns about courage, integrity, honor, and, most importantly, friendship. He returns home a changed young man…
I have been reading so many middle grade books recently and they have been really good! This is one that I highly suggest… my younger brother LOVES this series and has read it multiple times now. He’s not a speedy reader but he’s drawn back into this world again and again. He’s a gamer so that is really saying something!! If you enjoy mean girls and tons of internal conflict then this book is NOT for you. If you are an intellectual who has no problem reading classics then this book is NOT for you. If you are looking for a book that is simple but engaging where you are dropped into a world where you wish you could join Alex, then this book IS FOR YOU!
Alex is one of the MAJOR reasons I LOVED this book! Alex goes with the flow. He’s not very remarkable, he doesn’t enjoy washing dishes in his uncle’s restaurant but he knows that he’s blessed to live with his uncle and cousin with his parents gone. He doesn’t beat his chest in a bid for sympathy or put on an act to protect himself. He felt like a 15 year old boy (and not a precocious one at that) who isn’t yet able to choose how he becomes who he wants to be. This sign gives him that opportunity!!
The premise is AMAZE!! LOVE IT! I was sucked right in, because Alex wasn’t all gun-ho for an adventure. He was curious and wanted that satisfied but wasn’t expecting much. It’s Alex’s mindset going into the shop that sets the tone of the entire story! I felt like I would have reacted much like Alex did bowled over by the adults certainty. Isn’t that how life is sometimes for kids?! I really appreciated his perspective. To some readers, who are popular or accomplished already they probably won’t get or appreciate the specialness that is Alex… he is regular but he is special too. And the best thing about him is he goes for it! Not like.. I’ll do it I’ll rule the world, mwhaaaa! But more like okay this happened and this is what I can do… He doesn’t know if it will work or not but he goes for it!
I LOVED how Alex treasured friendship! He didn’t bond right off with all 8 adventurers. They were comrades but not necessarily close. And his relationships were different with the different adventurers. That is true to life. Andy is his contemporary, just a little more experienced than he is, but he is really close to the two who signed him on, Thrang the dwarf and Arconn the elf. Then there is the group leader Bregnest. I won’t give away any details about Alex’s relationship with these guys but it really works because each one is a little different! You really aren’t friends in a group as large as eight you tend to congregate with people your own age, the ones you first met or those you have regular contact with and these friends are the same way!
Travel stories are the best way to explore the world for the first time. We needed to get a grasp of how things work and what’s out there and this trip provided a means to give us a glimpse of that. Of course, the plot goes a long way to giving us fun these to experience with Alex and to test him as we do that traveling.
I actually really enjoyed the slice of life nature to the story. Due to this day to day look at adventuring the pace of the story was a tad slow at times as camping and their movements have to be at least mentioned but it doesn’t mean that something wasn’t always happening or setting up to happen. So you were always intrigued by what was coming next and how Alex would react. This aspect of the story was balanced well. He was learning what he could about being a wizard, about what it meant to be an adventurer as well as how to make decisions for himself when faced with a situation where he needed to make a decision.
The magic system was very fluid. We are so used to Harry Potter with wands and spells and advanced learning that it was refreshing for the magic to be single words and rather instinctual about how to USE the magic. His own conscience came to play in his decisions and how he would use his magic.
The end was a little pat… there was little difficulty in beating the dragon. It was a rather forgone conclusion at this point. But there were difficulties surrounding the defeat of the dragon. The message is that many times the big bad dragon we are to face can be defeated we simply have to make the journey, be on the lookout for ways to solve problems then we must face our fear and it is as easy as that. Its everything leading up to the final challenge that is the trouble! I enjoyed that message for a middle grade audience! Things are tied up really well at the end, maybe a little too tied up for an adult.
The three negative I talked about were not enough for me to drop my rating. I simply enjoyed the book too much for that!! I will MOST DEFINITELY be reading the next book and I anticipate the entire series!!
If this is NOT ENOUGH to convince you to read this book I have two other reasons…
Shahree – the horse he obtains for his adventure. Alex didn’t even realize he liked horses until he bought her! He goes on a mini adventure due to this horse and it is super adorable his relationship with her!
The GEEB!! – A bird in the shape of a bowling pin with 1 bird like leg, yellow with a red zigzag. It delivers messages (I won’t tell you from whom!) He answers in honks and dings his head changing to a horn and bell for each! You pay in gems and he’ll give you honest change! So cute! He just popped away, lol!
BOTTOM LINE: The best choice for young readers whose favorite pastime is NOT reading… they will be hooked!
Love the details!! There are no original ideas any more and writers are foolish to think there are… but that doesn’t mean we can’t use creativity to shape the details of our worlds in such a way that they feel new. I recognized many of these ideas from D&D and their knock offs but they were used in ways that reflected the new world that M.L. Forman created. When you make details your own, they come together for a win!