Saturday, April 12, 2008

Rick Yancey

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp
by Rick Yancey
Recommended Age: Age: 14+

A big, awkward, not-too-bright high school kid begins telling his tale with the following words: "I never thought I would save the world - or die saving it." Ouch! What was that? That, my friends, was a big, shiny hook setting into you. It's not every book whose narrator confesses, in his first sentence, that he dies during the adventure you are about to read. And read it you will, because few books come with hooks like that.

So how does teenager Alfred Kropp come to die saving the world? And how, you really want to know, does he live to tell about it? I'm under strict orders (from my conscience) not to answer your questions in much detail. May it suffice to say that it has to do with a very bad guy who tricks Alfred into stealing a sword for him... the secret society sworn to keep that sword from falling into the wrong hands... and a remorseful youth's quest to do one thing to make up for the mistake of a lifetime, before it turns around and bites the whole world where it hurts.

Also, there's a lot of fighting and dying in this book: not for the faint-hearted. But a lot of it is for a really good cause, or a closely related list of good causes, including a few stirrings of attachment to a very pretty girl. Alfred Kropp is the last person you would expect to become a swashbuckling hero - mainly because he expects it least of all. But in case you're worried, the adventures of "Boy, I wonder" continue in a further book, titled Alfred Kropp: The Seal of Solomon.

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