Author Braden Bell has crafted a wonderful middle-grade fantasy / adventure in The Kindling.
What is this book about? It’s summed up rather well in this description:
All thirteen-year-old Connor Dell wants to do is pass pre-algebra, play lacrosse, and possibly kiss Melanie Stephens. He didn’t mean to set anyone’s gym shorts on fire or make school lunches explode. But now that the strange powers inside him have been ignited, Connor’s normal teenage life is about to go up in flames!
Homework? Of course. Crushes? Sure. But who knew seventh grade included superpowers?
First of all, bravo! Bell has written an engaging, creative story. It’s geared toward middle-grade readers, though, as an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
There are three primary characters in the book: Conner Dell, his twin sister Lexa, and Lexa’s best friend Melanie Stephens. Each one of them has a distinct, unique voice. As the story unfolds, it is told from their separate viewpoints which gives a greater depth to the extraordinary events around them.
While the three young teenagers are the focus of the story, it is the supporting characters that make this book shine. Dr. Timberi is an altogether fascinating character. Braden Bell states that he is not Dr. Timberi, but I can’t help believe that Timberi wasn’t heavily influenced by Bell. I love the line where Bell writes, “While I’ll admit to some similarities in appearance, he is not me. Although, I would love to be him.” I dare say that if Dr. Timberi was real, he’d make the reverse claim after reading this book.
One thing Bell does in The Kindling is create a whole world of “magic”—though it isn’t quite that. He starts with basic concepts and builds on them. The end result is rather complex and, in turn, more believable than many stories I’ve read where things “just happen because it’s magic!”
My favorite part of the book happens on a trip to Disneyworld. I don’t want to spoil it. Let me just say, it was written in a way that I was laughing and holding on tightly to the edges of the book at the same time.
In fact, that is a great way to describe the whole book. It’s filled with creative humor while at the same time being suspenseful. That’s a fine line to walk, but Bell does it perfectly.
Who would like this book? I hope you notice that I left out any references to other middle grade books with magic and young characters. Why? Because this book is different enough that I didn’t want people go into it with the notion of, “Oh, it’s going to be just like…” It’s a clean read and safe for younger readers, and rich enough for adults to enjoy.
Bell has left the door open for more adventures with these characters. Again, bravo! I enjoyed my time with them and look forward to hanging out with them again.
To learn more and for information on how to get your copy, click here.
*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review. This did not influence my opinion of the book.*