Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Book Review: "Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria" by J.M. Bergen

Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria (Book 2)
Title: Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria
Author: J.M. Bergen
Series: "The Elandrian Chronicles" #2
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy 
Page Length: 370 pages
Publication Date: May 20, 2020
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Book 1 Review

*I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own*

I read the first book in this series last year and has a wonderful time so I was incredibly excited to read this installment. These books follow Thomas, who I believe is now thirteen, as he discovers that magic  runs in his family legacy and his help is needed to foil an enemy's plot that could impact the entirety of the world.

I really enjoyed book one. I thought it was light-hearted and fun with plenty of action and magic to keep any lover of middle-grade entertained. This book, however, developed in such a different and unique way. While we still have action and magic and the fun interactions between Thomas and his best friend, Enrique, the stakes have also risen and the book has a lot more tension throughout.

This book was a quick read. The writing is easy to follow and fall into while the story is engaging. The tension throughout also helped keep the pages turning because I wanted to know what happened next and I wanted to know immediately. This book is almost 400 pages long and I read it in one sitting in only a few hours.

The storyline itself was rather interesting. It builds on threads that were weaved from the first book and adds new information and events. There's plenty of action and fighting scenes as well as just magical training scenes. One thing that was nice is that the magic system is explained well to readers through the training scenes with Thomas so it doesn't ever feel like we're being info-dumped on. That being said, there were a lot of strategical and lower energy scenes throughout the book as well. It was an interesting balance between the two.

I will say that some parts of the novel didn't feel necessary to the overall plot line, though that didn't mean I didn't like them. I won't give specific examples because of spoilers, but there were a few scenes where I was reading and thinking, "what does this add to the story or character development?" and would draw a blank. That being said, I still enjoyed these scenes but some younger middle grade readers might find them tedious in an already long book.

I could definitely see how Thomas has grown up some from the boy we meet at the beginning of book one. He's been through a lot of tricky ordeals and stressful situations and you can see the effect that these have had on him. I also loved getting to see Enrique again. I love the value placed on friendship that is often in middle grade books and this was no exception. Thomas and Enrique always have each other's backs and I loved seeing it.

I will say that something I did get overwhelmed with was the sheer number of characters in this book. I probably should have reread the first book to refresh myself on everyone beforehand, but I found most of my struggles weren't with recognizing characters from the first book but with trying to keep all the new characters straight. I always struggle with names both in real life and in books. This means that I typically need a character to do something memorable individually on the page for me to keep them separate from the others. While a few characters did that, I ended up not spending the brain power trying to remember who's who in the frequent multi-character scenes. However, there were definitely a few new side characters who were introduced that I really enjoyed having in this book and am excited to see in the next one.

Overall, I really enjoyed this installment in the Elandrian Chronicles. I think Thomas is such a fun, nuanced character to read from and these books have a good balance on light-hearted middle grade fun and the more mature aspects that come with battles and saving the world. There was also a lot of new information that we got in this book about Thomas's family, magic as a whole, and more that I'm excited to see play out in the next book. A big thank you to Book Publicity Services for sending me a copy to review!

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