The Merchant of Death (Pendragon #1)

Author: D.J. MacHale
Reading Level: 4th to 6th

Pages: 374
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks (Simon & Schuster)
Edition: Paperback, 2002 (2002)

Bobby Pendragon describes events as Bazzario, his friend and uncle as Coolio, something sad is always going to “break his heart” and when facing death, he cannot help himself but uttering “Whoa!” I can’t believe the kind of drivel that is kept in this published work. At least half of the description, statement, and revelation is redundant. MacHale is a master of stating, restating, and overstating the obvious. It’s as if there is no trust in the reader’s ability to make sense and emotional connection or interpretation of the events.

There are life-or-death situations throughout the story but if one thinks twice about it, it is apparent that a tighter, more powerful story can emerge from beneath the jumble and rambling of words. Show, Mr. MacHale, show, and don’t tell!

I also couldn’t suspend my disbelief to accept that Bobby could scratch with a crude pen-and-ink-set on FOUR sheets of parchment, almost 50-printed pages worth of “journal entry.” Ok, he has to write “everything down” but if he only had a few hours (as it is the case) and a limited supply of parchment, it just does not make sense for him to record every single last word in the dialog or for him to make side mental comments on the situations. It simply does not follow logic — and in works of the fantastic and the wonderous, logic is more important to keep the fabric of the tale together.

So, I am forced to finish this book because my students keep asking me to read it because it is “GREAT”! Now, I have to start questioning how and why this book is great…. I need help! But I’m just happy that I’ve finally finished the book (what a painful week it was!) and can now move on to the new Neil Gaiman short story collection, The Fragile Things

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