ARC Review: Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret by D.D. Everest

Archie GreeneGenres: Magic, Urban Fantasy, Middle Grade
Release Date: April 21st, 2015
Publisher HarperCollins
Source:  eARC from Edelweiss
Check out on GOODREADS

On his twelfth birthday, Archie Greene receives a mysterious package from a man he has never met, a package containing an ancient book in a language he doesn’t recognize. The gift leads him to a family he didn’t know he had and a world he never knew existed.

Soon Archie becomes a bookbinding apprentice to the Flame Keepers, a secret group devoted to finding and preserving magical books at the Museum of Magical Miscellany. With the help of his cousins, Bramble and Thistle, Archie tries to unravel the mystery behind his book, but he begins to realize that his gift is something more powerful than he could have imagined. And the only thing more perilous than its contents is being its owner.

The book waited 400 years for Archie Greene. Now Archie must discover why.

review

Lately, I find myself being more and more drawn to middle grade books and I have this need to unearth all the jewels I can find. This book was one that I thought I would love. I was drawn in by the premise and was let down. What this book lacks is an execution of its premise that would blow the socks off of its readers. The premise is not the least bit lacking but the way things are built around it, those could definitely use a touch up so as to make this book the amazing thing it promises to be.

This problem is added to by the fact that this book reads like it’s aimed towards a younger audience. Some of the most obvious things to someone my age don’t seem to be obvious to Archie but I don’t know if it’s because kids in that age group are slower to make connections or if it’s just the author downsizing the book because kids are supposedly not so smart.

To me it felt like the latter. Which I don’t like. A book, no matter what age group it is aimed towards, should never feel like it’s undermining the reader’s intelligence. That’s the number one reason this book didn’t work for me. There were so many, ‘THIS IS SO OBVIOUS’ moments that just made me laugh at their obviousness and frustrated me when the characters couldn’t figure out what was going on.

Archie especially had a tendency to jump to conclusions. If this tendency were presented as a character fault instead of just something he did, I might have had a better time adjusting to it but he never seemed to realized that he had a tendency to jump to conclusions without thinking. He didn’t, in this case, learn from previous mistakes. So there wasn’t much development in his character. He was the same ‘special’ Archie he was at the beginning of the book but now he had cousins and family he was willing to be brave for.

That said, Archie was a good character. I admired his bravery, especially when he realized that being brave did not mean being fearless but rather being able to make decisions in spite of the fear. He is young and he seems to have all this responsibility thrown on him on top of the fact that he has just become aware of a whole other world. He takes this all in stride and attempts to adapt to the best of his ability. Sometimes the ease with which he adapts may seem a little far fetched but still, I cannot help but admire Archie. When he finds out that there have been secrets kept from him, he doesn’t go around demanding answers but instead seeks them himself. And he realizes when he is out of his depth and ASKS FOR HELP.

What also makes this book fun to read are the secondary characters. Old Zeb’s quirkiness never failed to put a smile to my face and I just adored how his cousins were so accepting of Archie. The relationship between the three was really fun to read about.

The best part of this book lies in the world building. I mean this is a book about people who take care of books. HOW COOL IS THAT? Throw in interesting concepts like the Great Library of Alexandria (!!!), magical books, and fantastical creatures and you have a book that could be a winner. In fact, this book would have been a winner for me if it weren’t so childish at times.

The plot also didn’t help matters. With all this awesomeness that could have been further developed, what happened instead was that everything happened in a rush. I tend to like it when my plots are well developed even if slow placed. The plot it in this book kind of just wooshed by you and you just stood there watching it fly past you wondering how you even got to this place. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, it’s just that had it been slower, I would have been a much happier reader.

The thing about this book is that it would be a perfect read if you’re not looking for something particularly detailed and fancy. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this book is going to draw you into one of the best adventures of your life, it won’t, but it’ll keep you occupied for a while and you’ll close the book with a smile on your face.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
World-building
Overall: 3.4
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Rashika

Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).

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  1. says

    I recently got this from Edelweiss and I was very interested because of the premise. Like you, I’ve been drawn to Middle Grade reads lately and I’m pretty sad this one didn’t work out too well for you. Now I’m having second thoughts about this book. Hahaha

    • Rashika says

      Don’t have second thoughts!! :) Even if you don’t love it, it’s a quick read so you won’t regret it (unless you hate it :P).

    • Rashika says

      That was basically me last year. This year, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and I am glad I did so because I’ve discovered a bunch of great books! :)

  2. says

    It’s always such a bummer when you get a book with you much potential but then it doesn’t really pan out as hoped… And I agree with you, dumbing down things is never a good idea!
    Great review Rashika!
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    • Rashika says

      YES. Exactly! A middle grade book doesn’t have to be obvious and juvenile. It can be aimed towards a younger audience and still be enjoyed by everyone if written in a certain manner.

      Thanks Jeann!! <3

  3. says

    There are so many MG books coming out about libraries and books. Gone are the days of myths and aliens. Your review actually reminded me of this MG ARC I was reading a while back. It had a cool concept where kids dive into stories but they mustn’t change it and yada yada but the problem I had was that it felt juvenile in terms of the characterization. That same OBVIOUS thing but I didn’t finish it so hoping maybe it gets better.
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    • Rashika says

      Are there?!?! You totally need to point me towards some of them! I miss the days of myths and aliens though! I miss reading all the cool MG I did when I was younger :/

      YES. The thing is that some might try to say that the juvenile characterization is because of the audience the book is aimed towards but that’s just ridiculous. Bleh :P

    • Rashika says

      I’ve definitely made some exceptions too! I think we all make exceptions if the book is intriguing enough though and while this one was, some of the other faults made it harder to read :/

      Thanks, Cristina!! <3

    • Rashika says

      HAHAHA! I totally do that when no one is around or if I am surrounded by people I am comfortable with. They all look up to see if I am talking to them but I never am. But then when I do talk to them they’re like, are you talking to me??? Tut tut :P

      Thanks Kimba!! :)

  4. says

    Haaah, That is so weird though, I have a nephew named Archie. xD I feel like that would make reading this book a little awkward. Ah, well. I hate it when MG books get dumbed down. It bugs me a lot, but I’m never unsure if kids in the actual right age bracket would think it was fine. I mean, maybe the point IS so the kids guess it and then they get that “oh I’m awesome I guess the clues” ahead of time? But even as a kid I liked reading books about intelligent children. So eh.
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    • Rashika says

      That WOULD be awkward. I know what you mean though, if a character has the same name as someone I know, I cannot help but have a certain opinion of the character and it’s hard to remind myself that the two persons have nothing in common (in general).

      RIGHT? I would not be amused by this book if I was younger. I’d probably be oohing and aahing over the premise but I’d be questioning the intelligence of the characters :P

  5. says

    Oooh the premise of the book sounds awesome, too bad the execution was a bit lackluster. At least the world-building saves the book. It sucks that authors seem to think that younger readers are too stupid to comprehend certain themes and that they need to dumb down their writing in order to attract these readers. No. Seriously just no.

  6. says

    Dammit. The premise sounded awesome, but it’s such a shame that it was executed so badly. I love me a bit of middle grade, actually reading through the Percy Jackson series at the moment too. It’s sounds like the only saving grace was the characters, but even that’s probably not enough to keep your interest. Sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed this one more Rashika, it really did have promise. Brilliant review <3
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    • Rashika says

      YAY! I am glad to hear it! I’ve been considering buying the series (Percy Jackson) but I don’t have the room for books. LIFE IS HARD.

      I think the saving grace for me was actually the premise, I was intrigued enough to continue with the book even if it wasn’t living up to it’s potential :P

      Thanks hon <33

    • Rashika says

      It’s so hard to find the time to read all the books :/ Right?!?! It always makes me feel a little heartbroken because there is so much more that could have been done!