Save the children from serial novels!

I just finished an advance reader’s copy of Benjamin Pratt & The Keepers of the School: We the Children by Andrew Clement which hits shelves today.  It’s a short book, only 143 pages, geared toward kids age 7-10.  The book is great and the story is fun, the plot is thick…  I think.

I can’t say for sure because just as the action was really getting going – the book ended.  Seriously.  Mid-sleuth, the book just stopped.  I had to re-read all of the marketing materials that were sent with the book to see if they just sent out a teaser, though the page count seemed right for this age group…

I knew that this book was the first in a new series by Andrew Clement, but I thought it would at least be a complete book.  There are lots of great children’s series out there right now.  My daughter LOVES the Rainbow Fairies, she’s just been turned on to the Secret Unicorn books, I’ve read some great first novels for upcoming series, but I’m blanking on their names…  The point though is that ALL of these books are complete books.  Yes, they end with the knowledge that there is more to come, but at least the initial story has been wrapped up.  Which is good since the next book won’t be out for at least 6 months, more likely a year, or if you’re Clive Barker it might take you 5…

The problem with this book is that because the story was just getting going and none of the conflicts that arose were dealt with, I don’t know how I feel about it and when the time comes for me to shell out $14.99 for the next book in the series, I doubt I’ll bother.  Why?  Because a book is only as good as it makes you feel in the end, and this one left me feeling cheated.

I’ve been introduced to the cast of characters. I’ve been asked to invest myself in their struggles and then I was dropped, like second period French.  I’m left wondering, how many more of these books will I be forced to buy to learn how Benjamin Pratt solves his problems, before I learn whether or not I actually like this character as an unlikely hero?  Right now he seems a little wishy-washy and wimpy.  But I like his side-kick.  I wish the books had been named for her.

In the end, I can’t recommend this book until the whole series is out and available in a tidy boxed-set, complete with an ending.  So, save your money.  No need to rush out for this one, your kids will only be frustrated when their book ends right in the middle of what could be a great story, but might turn out to be a lame duck…


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