Reviewed by Pica, avid bookworm
Note: I listened to the audiobook version of this book, so the spelling of all names are my best guess, and not necessarily the same spelling as found in the text.
THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM was so much fun, and the narration on the audiobook made it even more so. I loved the narrator, and the voices he used were perfect. Even though I thought a few of them were a little silly at the beginning, now I can't imagine them any other way. During the day, when I wasn't listening to the book, I often found myself randomly thinking in Gustav's voice, or Duncan's.
The story seems silly and fun - which it totally is - but there are also so many parts that are so clever. So many of the minor happenings at the beginning come back in the middle and at the end as important parts. For instance, in chapter 2 (or maybe 3), Gustav fights a troll. This encounter is very funny on its own, but it gets even better when Gustav and Fredric run into the troll again later in the story.
The only thing I wish I could have added to the audiobook was the wonderful illustrations. I looked up many of the illustrations after I finished listening to the book, and they work perfectly with the story. I will likely borrow a copy of The Hero's Guide from the library so I can flip through for the pictures, but I may end up rereading the whole thing, since I liked it so much.
I love these characters. They are all so much fun. I will try to explain them, but its hard to get the full effect before you've heard Duncan shouting, "Woohoo! Wild card!"
All of the other characters were just as great. Lila, Liam's sister, was one of my favorite characters, and I identified most with her. Zaubeera was also lots of fun to read about (or listen about in my case). Every character was fun and unique, and each added something to the story. Even Troll, the troll, became important in the end. Some other character highlights were Deeb Robber, the bandit king; all four princesses; the giant; and the bounty hunter.
The book is chock full of wit and humor, and had me laughing out loud repeatedly (often in public, while wearing headphones. I got some odd stares). Every character gets his share of clever lines, and I was having so much fun listening, at some points I didn't even care much where the story was going, as long as I could listen to these characters some more.
Another aspect I liked was how the narrator talked directly to the reader, voicing the thoughts that are actually going through your head. My favorite quote (as I remember it) is, "Liam opened the door and walked into The Stumpy Boarhound. But you knew that already, because you read the prologue." This was a particularly memorable moment for me, because right before this quote, I had been telling my friend about the story, and I had just said, "...and of course he's going to go in, because it said so in the prologue." Even when I was less than a minute into the audiobook, I was laughing at: "Charming isn't a name. It's an adjective."
It's quite obvious at this point that I loved this book. I plan to listen to it again. The narration is wonderful, the story is fantastic, the characters are great - I have absolutely no complaints. A wonderful MG for both boys and girls, and certainly a book I recommend to readers of all ages.
Market: Middle Grade