Book Review: Monster Academy: I Will Not Eat People

Matt Forbeck is a prolific writer. Now, I know that a lot of writers can (and have) been described this way but Mr Forbeck is some kind of special prolific. In 2012, he ran a Kickstarter called "12 for 12" in which he pledged to write 12 books in 12 months. While the effort wasn't perfect (he finished book 12 in the 13th month) it was, in my opinion, Herculean and insanely wonderful - mainly because he not only wrote his 12 pledged books but he also wrote commissioned work that still needed to be completed (including a "tie-in" book for the TV series Leverage) and threw in some game design work, you know...just because he could.

Oh... And did I mention he does all this while raising five kids (four of whom are quadruplets!)?

The thing is, it would be easy to dismiss all this if Forbeck's books weren't so much fun. My experiences so far have proven his writing to be quick, thoughtful, occasionally formulaic (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), and rollicking good fun.

Forbeck's most recent publication, MONSTER ACADEMY: I WILL NOT EAT PEOPLE is the first book in a trilogy that follows the adventures of Ruddy, an orphaned young dragon who often takes the form of a skinny teen with blazing red hair. Rescued from the keep of adventurers illegally raising him as their flying mount, Ruddy winds up remanded to the Monster Academy, where he is told that he has one last chance to become a valuable citizen of the kingdom — or face death.

There's a definite Harry Potter vibe - what with the school full of magical, mystical things, a band of misfit misfits, and an array of oddball authority figures (my favorite being Mr Mortis, the headmaster who's is literally nothing but bones). About midway through the book, the story turns into a cracking whodunit and, throughout the book, the themes are presented without "dumbing them down" for the younger audience. It is a book for anyone who wants a little escapism for the weekend, regardless of age. But, for parents of young adults who want to stretch their kids' thinking, this is a must-read. The main character, Ruddy, is inquisitive and asks tough questions about life, death, and the nature of hate and  virtue. He is a frightening fire-breathing dragon with a heart too big for his magical human form and, at a time when most of our heroes are very flawed, it is lovely to have a hero who is innocent, true, and courageous. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to following the continuing adventures of the monsters at the Royal Academy for Creature Habilitation.

If you're interested in the book, it's just been released and is available for download, for a limited time, for just $2.99. 

Finally, my favorite Forbeck book is CARPATHIA, an alternate history story of the sinking of the Titanic and the ship that responded to its distress calls - with vampires! Like all of Forbeck's books, it's fun read from an amazingly creative overachiever. :)

- Alex

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