The Outcasts by John Flanagan

Title: The Outcasts
Author: John Flanagan
Narrator: John Keating
Series: Brotherband Chronicles #1
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Release Date: 11/1/2011
Length: 12 hours, 18 minutes
Format: Unabridged Digital Audiobook
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Challenges: N/A
Source: Publisher (thank you!)
Purchase: Digital Audiobook

They are outcasts. Hal, Stig, and the others – they are the boys the others want no part of. Skandians, as any reader of Ranger’s Apprentice could tell you, are known for their size and strength. Not these boys. Yet that doesn’t mean they don’t have skills. And courage – which they will need every ounce of to do battle at sea against the other bands, the Wolves and the Sharks, in the ultimate race. The icy waters make for a treacherous playing field – especially when not everyone thinks of it as playing.John Flanagan, author of the international phenomenon Ranger’s Apprentice, creates a new cast of characters to populate his world of Skandians and Araluens, a world millions of young readers and listeners around the world have come to know and admire. Full of seafaring adventures and epic battles, Book 1 of The Brotherband Chronicles is sure to thrill fans of Ranger’s Apprentice while enticing a whole new generation just now discovering the books.

I feel the need to post something since I requested to review this from Penguin. Let me begin by saying that I don’t think this is a bad book. In fact, once I got into a little I thought it was pretty good. There were just a few things I didn’t like.

I wasn’t crazy about the narrator from the beginning. He does good voices and everything, but it’s painfully obvious that he’s reading and I hate that. I want to be able to imagine that I’m there hearing the conversations. Good narrators make it all sound so effortless. I wasn’t getting that with this one and that’s usually when I stop and decide to pick up the print version later. But! Since I had this review copy I kept listening.

I never read Ranger’s Apprentice, though I’ve heard they’re good. I know this is sort of a companion series. I think because I never read those, I had a hard time getting my head into this world. Actually, I never really got there. That’s another reason I ultimately gave up on this one. The final reason was that it felt too much like a little kid book. There’s a lot of redundancy, which I think is just a style meant to help kids understand what’s going on, but having obvious things pointed out to me is some I find incredibly annoying. I just got to the point where I felt like I was wasting my time.

On the bright side, the characters are pretty good. I really loved Hal and I would definitely recommend this to my nephews. In fact, I might let my nephew listen to it and get his opinion. Maybe I could talk him into writing a little mini review or something. He’s eleven and I think this would be right up his alley. He likes Artemis Fowl a lot, and this has that same sort of adventure feel.

In short, it’s not bad, but it’s not really my thing either. I think this would be good for seven to pre-teen aged kids.

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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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