Title: Sky Raiders
Author: Brandon Mull
Series: Five Kingdoms #1
Genre: Middle Grade
Release Date: March 11, 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Overview: Cole Randolph was just trying to have a fun time with his friends on Halloween (and maybe get to know Jenna Hunt a little better). But when a spooky haunted house turns out to be a portal to something much creepier, Cole finds himself on an adventure on a whole different level. After Cole sees his friends whisked away to some mysterious place underneath the haunted house, he dives in after them and ends up in The Outskirts.
The Outskirts are made up of five kingdoms that lie between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. Its an in-between place. Some people are born there. Some find their way there from our world, or from other worlds. And once you come to the Outskirts, its very hard to leave. With the magic of the Outskirts starting to unravel, its up to Cole and an unusual girl named Mira to rescue his friends, set things right in the Outskirts, and hopefully find his way back home before his existence is forgotten.
What a fun new series from Brandon Mull! Sky Raiders had everything I’ve come to expect from this author: truckloads of imagination, epic adventures, and characters who are so relatable they take you back to your childhood. Aside from JK Rowling, Mull is definitely my favorite middle grade author and I’m excited to see every new book from him get stronger and stronger.
As an adult, I definitely enjoyed Sky Raiders because the kids were quick-witted and the overall plot was complex enough to keep me engaged. It’s one of those books that gets interesting right away and really doesn’t let up until the end – perfect for kids who have a difficult time focusing long enough to read. While Fablehaven will always be my all time favorite from Mull, I’m thrilled that I now have another solid story to hand to kids looking for next great read.
As I’ve mentioned, Mull always has a great deal of imagination in the books he writes. I have found that, especially in children’s books, too much imagination can make the story a little too far-fetched and silly for my tastes. In this case, however, Mull created a new world where wacky, random things can be made real through a particular magic called “shaping.” Because this world had a solid set of rules, all the fantastical creations became feasible even if they were sometimes a bit random. Was it still a bit too much? For me, maybe a little; for a ten-year-old (i.e. the target audience) it was perfect.
Overall, I really enjoyed Sky Raiders – it had many neat elements that I’m sure we’ve only scratched the surface of at this point. It’s one of the main reasons I’m eager to read on in this series – I can’t wait to find out more about the Five Kingdoms!
Recommended Reading: I would be eager hand this book to any kid who enjoys books with magic – especially ones who loved the Beyonders series by the same author. It’s definitely geared towards a younger audience, so I would probably only hand it to an adult if they mention they like middle grade titles.
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Thank you Edelweiss for the chance to read and review this title!