Friday, April 5, 2013

Book Review: The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

Title:  The Candy Shop War
Author:  Brandon Mull
Series:  Candy Shop War #1
Genre:  Middle-grade fantasy
Pages:  370

Rating:  B

Synopsis from  What if there were a place where you could get magical candy? Moon rocks that made you feel weightless. Jawbreakers that made you unbreakable. Or candy that gave animals temporary human intelligence and communication skills. (Imagine what your pet would say!) Four young friends, Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon, are befriended by Belinda White, the owner of a new candy shop on Main Street. However, the gray- haired, grandmotherly Mrs. White is not an ordinary candy maker. Her confections have magical side effects. Purposefully, she invites the kids on a special mission to retrieve a hidden talisman under Mt. Diablo Elementary School. However, Mrs. White is not the only magician in town in search of the ancient artifact rumored to be a fountain of youth. She is aware that Mr. Stott, the not- so- ordinary ice cream truck driver, has a few tricks of his own.

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I wish I had more to say about this book, but I read another one right after it so this review will be short and straightforward.  I enjoyed The Candy Shop War; it's definitely a book I would have loved even more when I was younger.

  • The book had a fun story.  An old-fashioned ice cream shop that sells candy that grants magical powers to kids?  A war between magicians that these same kids get caught up in and must resolve?  It's a great premise and made a fun read.
  • There were also good main characters.  Each one had a unique personality, and the main villain was exceptionally well-done.  However, the bullies the kids face at school are bland and stereotypical.  
  • The writing was OK.  At points it was jumpy and jumbled, and I had to reread stuff to figure out if I'd missed something.
  • My biggest problem with the book, and what kept the rating from being an A, was the author's obsession with race.  He brings it up so much, in very unnecessary ways, that it bugged me and made me want to put the book down at times.  And worse were the times when he said things that bordered on racist.  It kept me from completely enjoying the book.
As I said before, I would have loved this book a lot more when I was younger because the writing style wouldn't have bothered me, and I never would have noticed the constant racial references.  But now that I'm older (and hopefully wiser), these things got under my skin and made me uncomfortable.  I'd hesitate to recommend this to kids without warning parents first.  B

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