The Paladin Prophecy

13354420

Author: Mark Frost

Publication: 2012, Random House

Pages: 560

Overall Rating: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Rating for Action: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Will’s parents have always coached him to live under the radar, and when he accidentally scores off the charts on a national test he begins to understand why. At the same time he’s being courted by an exclusive prep school, his parents disappear and Will finds himself under surveillance by a group of men in black hats. He flees to the school, where he begins to explore the true extent of his abilities, finds a new group of allies, and discovers that his own struggles are connected to a much larger battle.

Age of Main Character: 17

What I Liked the Most: Frost incorporates some very cool cutting edge technology into the book, my favorite being the virtual reality clones (and I really can’t think of any better way to describe this) that they use to operate their school issued computers. If it’s late at night, but they need a book from the library, no problem – their virtual clones can walk to a virtual copy of the library, find the virtual book on the shelf, and search it for the exact information they need. And Will can even watch it happen in real time.

The school itself is also over-the-top awesome. Think of any element you’d ever want in a school – amazing sports facilities, gourmet all-you-can-eat food, a mall, and an unlimited credit card. Too good to be true? Definitely, but it’s still fun to dream.

What I Liked the Least: There are too many aspects of the story that just didn’t make logical sense, even for a fantasy superhero book. While fleeing to the school, Will meets a taxi driver who goes way over the top in an attempt to help some random kid he’s just met. He sneaks Will through a police road block, gives him a throw away cell phone, and later goes on to break into a house for Will – all on the basis of a paper thin story about why Will needs his help. I didn’t buy any of it.

Will also gets recruited to his prep school on the basis of some crazy high test scores – in fact, he gets the highest scores in the history of the test and he wasn’t even trying. That’s fine, except that as the story progresses Frost doesn’t portray Will as a super genius. He’s not dumb by any means, but there’s another boy in the group who is clearly the brains of the operation and there are plenty of instances where Will seems to be in over his head intellectually. On the other hand, we find out very early on that Will is also an extremely fast runner – like world record fast. So the question I couldn’t stop thinking was – why didn’t Frost have him lose control during a race and blow the competition out of the water? Why not have the school recruit him for his most obvious talent?

Finally, the school goes much too far out of its way to accommodate Will – buying him a last minute, middle of the night, plane ticket so he can start immediately instead of waiting for the new semester, running medical tests with only Will’s verbal say so that he has his parent’s permission, and more. No matter how special Will is, schools don’t operate that way. It felt like yet another example of Frost pulling some fairly cheap strings to make the story work.

How Good was the Action? It can get pretty fast, and Frost knows how to write a good action scene. What held it back from being great were all the adults who kept coming to Will’s aid. He’s got some super-powered mystical warrior on his side, and when super dude isn’t there Will and his friends end up getting help from several of the adults at the school – who all exhibit unusual powers of their own. Having an adult step in once or twice is okay, but do it too often and it takes the edge off the action. After all, how nervous am I going to get if I know help is probably on the way?

How Engaging was the Story? The first part of the book pulled me in much more effectively than the second part. In the first part, Will finds himself on the run, with unknown enemies closing in. He has to use his wits to escape and the action there is pretty fast and furious. Once he gets to the school things slow down, but I still found myself drawn in as he attempted to navigate his new environment. But as the mystery heats up, I actually found my attention starting to drift. The main villain Will has to face off with didn’t feel all that threatening, and Will’s new friends were far too quick to believe every outlandish thing he said. All in all, the deeper the mystery got, the less interested I became.

Overall Assessment: The Paladin Prophecy has some cool stuff going for it, and the first half of the book definitely had my attention – but in the end the story was just too implausible to take seriously. The mystery felt kind of bland, and there were way too many adults helping out at every turn. It’s an okay read, but definitely nothing special.

Profanity: Some. There is profanity, but it stays at a fairly mild level.

Sex: A couple of chaste kisses.

Violence: Not much. There are fights, but very little in the way of blood and nobody dies.

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