Book Review: The Merchant of Death, by D.J. MacHale

pendragon1_coverBobby Pendragon is a seemingly normal teenage boy living in Stony Brook, Connecticut. He has everything going for him: the girl of his dreams, good grades, and a position on the basketball team. But his life is about to be thrown upside down.

When Bobby’s Uncle Press shows up at his door and whisks him off to a flume, or a portal to different worlds, his life takes a huge turn for the worst. The next thing Bobby knows, he’s thrown into a parallel universe, fighting for his life. He comes face-to-face with monsters and despicable villains, and he also learns the true meanings of courage and sacrifice.

D.J. MacHale’s novel Pendragon: The Merchant of Death is a good example of a coming-of-age book. Bobby and his friends must learn the true meaning of friendship, loyalty, maturity, and sacrifice for the greater good. The tight bond they share is shown to be stronger than the obstacles they face. MacHale’s book delivers many messages to adolescents to help them through a difficult time in their lives and does it in a way that captures the minds of the readers and keeps their interest.

This series has many fantasy aspects to it, similar to books like Harry Potter. However, these books are shorter and written to appeal more to the teenage mind. McHale gives the readers a story where a normal teenager goes from being nothing more than an average student and star basketball player to being an important figure who has to help save not just the world, but the universe.

The reader is shown the doubt and fear Bobby faces throughout the book, and how he must grapple with the new responsibility and experiences. This shows adolescent readers that it is all right to be scared, but that doing the right thing is a part of growing up and transitioning into adulthood. This book is a must-read for any pre-teen or teenage reader who loves adventure and fantasy.

-Julia D.

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