Death's Academy by Michael Bast, YR, 2014, 249p, Rating=5
Source: paperback copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review
You see that chipmunk over there? I’ve got to make sure it’s dead in less than three minutes. Don’t make that face—it’s my job.
Midnight Smith has a problem. He’s a hoodie. Well, almost. He has to go through Death’s Academy so he can learn how to snuff out shorties (humans, like you and your friends) and outsmart those pesky halos. Then he’ll get his shroud and calling and become a full-fledged Grim Reaper. But to get into Death’s Academy, there’s a real killer exam . . . and Midnight stinks at exams.
What he doesn’t know is that the exam is the least of his worries. When the hoodies and halos go on their yearly retreat, the time is ripe for an old enemy—the diabolical Unicorns—to strike. That leaves Midnight and his friends the only ones to stop the attack . . . and this is something he just can’t fail at.
Death's Academy turns convention on its head. Root for the “bad guy” in this delicious twist on good versus evil.
This read was very entertaining. The imagination factor fits the bill for middle schoolers ..adventurous, funny, and downright wacky! This world that the author created included halos (guardian angels), hoodies (grim reaper family), shorties (humans and other earthly living creatures), and unicorns (enemies). Sounds like a world that boys at play would come up with. I don’t mean the exact story, but something equally over the top. So make room for your kids’ book shelves because once they get a taste of this book, they’re going to want more. Look out Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz because Death's Academy is a modern contender!
Some parents might find Night as a bad example for young readers. He was a rule breaker and found to be disrespectful. However, that was fitting for his character. He was young, impulsive, and had something to prove. He was his father’s son, who was the butt of every joke in town. Therefore, Night was mocked by association. That was a heavy and humiliating load to carry for a young kid. Plus, he was at the budding age of the rebellion phase. That said, that juncture was necessary to see Night’s coming of age by books end. We saw how friendship, teamwork, and compassion played in Night’s maturation. That to me was the heart of the book.
Although I didn’t know how it all would unfold, it was easy to suspect the general direction. In this case, when I was right, it felt satisfying rather than disappointing. Plus, I found delight in the supporting characters along the way, especially Mal. She was my favorite character. She so rocked! She was a true friend through thick and thin plus ingeniously savvy to boot!
Overall, this was a whimsical book that challenged moral uprightness. A great food for thought for the young minds.