Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pendragon - Book One: The Merchant of Death - D.J. MacHale (audio)

A few weeks back, I had to make an emergency stop at the library for more audio books, and I picked this one up for the kids and I. I knew nothing about it, except that the school library carries it, and it has a whole string of installments. Ten, as it turns out.

Bobby Pendragon is a normal 14-year-old. He loves to hang with his best friend Mark, he has a passion for basketball, and he has had a crush on Courtney Chetwynde (he's even kissed her once!). But when his Uncle Press whisks him off suddenly, explaining that a group of people desperately need their help, and they time-travel through a "flume" to the planet Denduron, things are no longer run-of-the-mill. Through a series of journals transported back to Mark and Courtney, Bobby recounts his unsolicited new life as a "traveler" and the apparent savior of not only the planet Denduron, but of all times and places that ever existed, called Halla.

Denduron is a planet in turmoil, a caste society of the haves and the have-nots. The have-nots are poverty-stricken and oppressed. Working conditions are horrific, and those that get out of line are killed without remorse. The planet is overrun with huge, man-eating bear-like creatures. When the have-nots discover a natural explosive material, they begin to organize a resistance that threatens to not only destroy their oppressors, but themselves as well. Another traveler, the evil Saint Dane, would like to encourage the self-destruction and ultimately take over Halla. This is where Bobby, his uncle, and the lovely, hard bodied Lohr (another traveler) come into the picture. Bobby, who considers himself a bit of a chicken, rises to the challenge and proves to himself that there's more courage and leadership in his wimpy body that he ever thought.

This audio was entertaining to listen to, probably more for the kids than myself. It was vaguely reminiscent of other YA fantasy stories (Chronicles of Narnia? Harry Potter? Artemis Fowl?), and once the story got rolling, was fairly predictable. There were a few words uttered that aren't allowed in our house, but the kids have heard them before and know not to repeat them. I think what made this story stand out in my mind was the narrator, William Dufris. His voice is incredibly animated and his inflections are the perfect imitation of a 14 year old boy, a wizened old peddler, a narcissistic, childlike leader. It was a treat to listen to him. Will we continue to pursue the series? The kids have voted "yes". We'll see how far we get into the 10 book series before one of us loses interest!

Sandy's rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Kids' rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Unknown said...

10 book series! That is a big commitment for something that doesn't sound that great.

I'm betting you give up after 3 of them! Good luck, and I hope they improve a bit for you.

Beth F said...

I'm on book 4 or 5 of the series. It's not a "must race out and the next one" series but each one takes place in a new world, and Bobby grows and matures. I've been going thru the series on audio, too. I hesitated to recommend them to my niece (in 6th grade at the time I discovered the books) because of some of the language, but she liked them and then started lending me the books as she raced ahead.

Unknown said...

10 books!!! I think that may end up significantly longer that The Tale of Genji.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie - you may be right! We'll see. This one was ten discs long, and the books keep getting bigger. We may lose our stamina!

Beth - this series is pretty popular in the library, but ARE only loaned out to 6th grade and up. I know, I'm bad. I feel that my kids have a mature attitude towards the language though. The words aren't THAT bad, considering what pops up in the movies now.

James - I imagine you are right! This is going to be a long progress, especially since we just started the Maximum Ride series also. At least I don't have to wonder what our next audio books are going to be!

Darlene said...

Wow, 10 in a series is a pretty big committment. It does sound kind of interesting though, my favorite to listen to over and over is Harry Potter. lol. How soon are you leaving on holiday?

Sandy Nawrot said...

Dar - This is no Harry Potter, that is for sure. But what is? We leave a week from today actually! I've got just about all of my posts scheduled for the duration! This is the sixth time I've gone, you'd think I'd have it all down. But the scrambling at the last minute can be nuts. Haircuts, pedicures, maps and international drivers licenses, and everything in between!

Carrie K. said...

Even though this doesn't make me want to read it, I think it's one my 11-year-old son would like, so I'm going to suggest it to him.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Yeah, I think you've got the idea. It wasn't a terrible book for me - I was very much entertained. But the kids are all over this kind of book. I think my daughter was probably more taken with it than my son, but I think he tends to be more aware of my attitudes.

Melody said...

Wow, 10 books! I agree with the others that that's a huge commitment! I still haven't complete the Harry Potter series yet, I think I'm only in #3! ;P