What’s it about?
Xander Miyamoto would rather do almost anything than listen to his sixth grade teacher, Mr. Stedman, drone on about weather disasters happening around the globe. If Xander could do stuff he’s good at instead, like draw comics and create computer programs, and if Lovey would stop harassing him for being half Asian, he might not be counting the minutes until the dismissal bell.
When spring break begins at last, Xander plans to spend it playing computer games with his best friend, Peyton. Xander’s father briefly distracts him with a comic book about some samurai warrior that pops out of a peach pit. Xander tosses it aside, but Peyton finds it more interesting.
Little does either boy know that the comic is a warning. They are about to be thrust into the biggest adventure of their lives-a journey wilder than any Xander has ever imagined, full of weird monsters even worse than Lovey. To win at this deadly serious game they will have to rely on their wits, courage, faith, and especially, each other. Maybe Xander should have listened to Mr Stedman about the weather after all. . . . – Goodreads Synopsis
My Review of Xander & the Lost Island of Monsters
Xander & the Lost Island of Monsters was, at least for the first part, a calm and comfortable read. The writing style is such that it invites you to get comfy and curl up with a book. This might not be what the writer was going for, as it’s an adventure story, but I don’t see it as a bad thing. It’s an easy read, aimed at middle-graders, which meant I flew through the pages. When things did finally shift into high gear, I was fully immersed in the story and couldn’t wait to see what happened.
The main character is a 6th grade boy so obviously there was a bit of a lack of connection between myself and Xander, still, I found myself smiling at some of the conversations that Xander and his side-kick, Peyton, had. I mean, how many times have we all had a conversation that goes something like the (paraphrased) following:
“Dude, that was awesome.”
“Dude,” I say back. “Dude.”
-Margaret Dilloway, Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters
Some conversations just cross gender and age lines.
The relationships between all the characters were interesting. Xander is pretty much the exact opposite of every boy hero you’d hear of. His special talents are out of his control. He’s so weak his friend has to help him out constantly. Peyton, on the other hand, is tall, muscular, and athletic in every sense of the word. They have that sort of best-friendship that we all want to have. The grandma, small though her role is, is every good grandma in existence. Stern, yet loving, and a tad snarky. Even Jinx is – if not likable – at least a character you can sympathize with.
In fact, one of the most powerful lines in the book comes regarding Xander’s thoughts towards Jinx. The author deftly touches upon something that all children who have been in unpleasant situations with people that should love them. She touches on other topics that matter, too, but this one is by far the most impactful.
The book is interspersed with pages from the comic book mentioned in the synopsis. The lines from that ready very choppy, and simple. I’ve never been able to read a comic book, so I’ll assume its written that way for a reason. The way Xander also gripes about how if he’s supposed to be a Chosen One, where’s the x,y, and z associated with being a Chosen one elicited a snicker on more than one occasion.
Overall, Xander & the Lost Island of Monsters is a well-written middle-grade work that even adults can enjoy. An easy take on a classic story, this first book in the Momotaro series has the easy-going engagement with distinctive characters that signifies a book that is sure to capture the imagination. I will say to please don’t blame your child if they hit the last page, gape, and suddenly throw the book in frustration. I did!
Title: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters | Series: Momotaro #1 | Author: Margaret Dilloway (site) | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (site) | Pub. Date: 2016-4-5 | Pages: 320 | ISBN13: 9781484724873 | Genre: Children’s Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Date Read: 2016-3-28 | Source: Received a copy free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.