Initial thoughts: “The Paladin Prophecy” reminded me a good bit of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series mixed with many supernatural and technological elements in spurts. It’s a cool story of an extraordinarily gifted boy who ends up at a special school and put to the test against enemies that seek to do him harm. He has to rely on his father’s rules to live by, his friends, among his progressively developing abilities to survive the contentions he faces. There’s quite a bit of intrigue here, but at the same time I did feel some cliched elements and aspects of the book, as well as the story’s pacing in spurts, really affected parts of my enjoyment of the overall book. Still, with the peppered humor, quirky characters, and some genuinely entertaining moments, I liked reading “Paladin Prophecy,” and it has me interested to see what the second book in the series has to offer.
I’ve known Mark Frost for being the co-creator of the series “Twin Peaks” and also or his other directorial roles for a time, so when I heard he was starting a new YA series, with the first book called “The Paladin Prophecy” – I was naturally curious to check into it myself. It’s very much a stroll down memory lane for me as this series features a number of quirky characters, bits of humor, and somewhat of a throwback vibe to several pop culture references. The series itself is reminiscent of recent action/adventure YA series such as Lore’s “I Am Number Four” and Anthony Horowitz’s “Alex Rider series.”
The story focuses on Will West, a boy who has moved around by his parents many times in his life and seems to take after his father’s rules to live by. He has a number of extraordinary abilities and tries not to stand out very much in his day-to-day living. But things quickly turn sour when he’s followed by a mysterious car, gets a strange text from his father, and his home life is turned upside down when his mother starts acting strange. Will, as a result, is in a race for his life, fleeing and ending up in a special training school where he has to fend off bullies, discover more about his inherent traits and role, and figure who wants to do him and his family harm. He meets a wide variety of colorful characters that aid him along in his quest, and somehow – the story manages to be entertaining while combining a smorgasbord of different elements – action, adventure, paranormal, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy – among other elements.
In retrospect, I did have some problems with “Paladin Prophecy” in that it’s not as smooth of a read collectively as one may think – there’s a lot of limbo that the story leaves you in before it starts connecting the dots, and even then some of the elements are rather loose and you just have to go with them. It’s imaginative in spurts – I loved the portrayals of the little avatars and the parasitic bugs, but I did think some of the portrayals (particularly with aspects of the characterization) were very stereotypical. Also, it may be that I appreciated this more because I was able to get some of the elder references, but it made me wonder just how many YA audiences would be able to know who groups like “The Shangri Las” among other parts. I think if a YA reader just wanted to read this for the action and unfolding character scenarios, they may not really care all that much. The dialogue is funny for the most part (perhaps only a few times awkward), and I did enjoy learning a little more about Will, Ajay, Nick, and the rest of the group. The story became easier for me to read as it went forward, especially when certain parts of the story and the relation to the title started falling into place. I still felt a little confused as the story reached its conclusion, but it left me with enough intrigue to see where the next book takes the story.
I think those who like a YA story that focuses on action/adventure with many smaller pieces and quirky (yet odd) characters might like this, but at the same time, I think depending on how cohesive you like your action/adventure stories to be, this may have readers falling on either side of the block of it. I personally liked it enough to see where the story goes from here, but there were elements of it that weren’t as solid as I thought they could’ve been.
Overall score: 3/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Random House BFYR.