Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Length: 192 pages
Series or Stand Alone: Book 2 in the Spirit Animals series. Seven titles are planned.
Content Appropriate For: Grades 3-5
Format: eARC thanks to netgalley and Scholastic. Publication date 1.7.2014
Three adjectives that describe this book: action-packed, adventurous, easy-to-read
Spirit Animals is the third multi-author interactive series from Scholastic (39 Clues and Infinity Ring are the others). The 39 Clues remains very popular with middle-graders, and Scholastic is hoping to repeat that success with Spirit Animals.
Warning: Some YA readers will try out individual titles thanks to the well-loved authors of each book - Brandon Mull, Maggie Stiefvater, and Garth Nix are books 1-3. However, one must remember that these authors are writing in a very specific construct so the books are more an exploration of plot and character, than an expose of author style. You have been warned.
My fifth graders really enjoyed Book 1: Wild Born by Brandon Mull. I think they will like this installment, Hunted, even more. This title is adventurous action from page one. The complex character development that marred the first half of book one is absent in Hunted and Stiefvater really just follows the characters from one fever-pitched encounter to another.
Still, these books lack depth. There's not much character development or world-building. I think this is by design, though. The decision to make these books thin makes them more accessible to emerging middle-grade readers, and makes it easier for the multi-author approach to work. Scholastic has made this series into a multimedia, interactive experience using the Spirit Animals game.
I'm excited about Book 3 - Blood Ties because Garth Nix is the author and I love him. Maybe he'll be able to take the series a bit deeper. Or maybe I should listen to my own warning!