Publisher: Scholastic Press
Available: NOW !! (Released March 2013)
A boy goes on the run in this fast-paced fantasy debut.
Can a zero become a hero?
Testing Day is supposed to be a day of celebration for Al Pilgrommor. Born into a wealthy family, he expects to follow in his successful father's footsteps. Of course, that all depends on the rank number Al receives at the testing. The higher the rank he has tattooed onto his neck, the better his life will be.
To his surprise and horror, Al is revealed to be rank zero, the lowest of the low. He's now not only an outcast — he's also a danger to his entire family. So Al goes on the run, fleeing the brutal Cullers, men who hunt down zeroes . . . and put them to death.
ast out of his home, cut off from his friends, and armed with only a sword and his wits, Al is reduced to just surviving. As he meets other outcasts, however, he begins to suspect that he is a pawn in a larger game — and that he might have the power to tip the scales in a high-stakes struggle between man and dragon.
In a world of dragons, magic, and mystical creatures, humans are ranked and put into classes according to their worth. Al is trying to make it through testing day, the day he finds his place in the world and can be whatever they assign him to be. Only this is not how things go. Al is thrust into a life of running from the Cullers, an army doing the Dragon’s bidding to rid the world of the trouble-makers.
While on the run Al befriends some interesting people and finds himself on the adventure of his lifetime. Destined to be something great and he doesn’t even know it.
It took me a very long time to get into this book, I think it was mostly because it talks of dragons and an epic fantasy quest and it is/has those things, but not for a while. The first half of the book is about Al on the run and his encounters and strengthening himself for battle, mentally, and emotional for what is to come.
The characters are not overly developed and leave a lot to the imagination. They are enjoyable but they lack depth…then again this is a middle grade read, intended for grades 3-7. The story once you move past the initial running and battles gets a little better. There is more detail about the real plot and Al’s importance, but again here there is a lot left unsaid or started to late in the book to get really into the details.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the 2nd half of this book, it was wonderful and it did not take me long to get through. It just wasn’t as epic as I expected going into it.
If you have a young boy, this is an adventure with good versus evil, dragons, swords, fighting… all the goodies they will love, so pick it up for them. If your reader enjoys fantasy, I think it is a good pick all around for a light, easy, read. If you young reader is looking for depth, this one lacks things and leaves a few questions in the end.
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