I have just finished reading The Magnificent 12: The Call, the first in a brand new fantasy series by Michael Grant. With twenty-one phobias and counting–including a fear of phobias–twelve-year-old David MacAvoy (Mack) seems an unlikely hero. But through the pipes in the boys’ bathroom, Mack receives word from a 3,000-year-old man that the Pale Queen is about to be destroy the earth. In his DNA, Mack carries high doses of the enlightened puissance needed to stop her. He must join up with eleven other chosen children to save the world.
Grant’s dry, understate humor flavors the entire story and often had me chuckling out loud. It is, I believe, the book’s highest quality. Consider:
“So, David, how was school?” his father asked as he tonged chicken strips onto his plate.
“Bunch of interesting stuff happened today,” Mack said.
“And don’t just tell us it was the same old, same old,” his mother said. She passed ketchup to her husband.
“Well, it definitely wasn’t the same old, same old,” Mack said. “For one thing, some ancient dead-looking dude froze time and space for a while.”
“How did the math test go?” his father asked. “I hope you’re keeping up.”
“That wasn’t today. That was Friday. Today was the whole deadish guy suspending the very laws of physics and speaking in some language I didn’t understand.”
“Well, you’ve always done well in your language classes,” Mack’s mother said.
On the downside, Grant’s writing is plain, with not too much concern for passive verbs or replacing “said” with more interesting words. His characters feel stand-offish–I never really connected with any of them. And I really didn’t buy the major scene in which Mack’s co-hero Jirrah fills him in on back history based on ancient records scratched onto a cave wall. Perhaps meant to be funny in it’s rapid-fire, extremely coincidental delivery, it simply comes off as author laziness.
But Grant delivers bold, hard-hitting action. Buggy monsters, a beautiful shape-shifting enchantress, quirky elves, a magic language and a parallel story that takes place 3,000 year prior, kids are going to eat this up. Grant also has a fun, interactive website with an very well-done book trailer. I LOVE the character illustrations, both on the book and on the website.
While The Call will never rate among my personal favorites, Grant offers an appealing, hilarious adventure to middle-readers. Approx ages: 9-13. No news yet on sequels.