The Death’s Academy entrance exam for Midnight Smith is quickly approaching. There’s just one problem: Midnight is the worst exam taker the academy has ever seen. If Midnight wants to ever step foot inside the school, he’ll have to join forces with the hated Guardian Angels, and together face the deadliest creatures in the world—the dreaded Unicorns. Becoming a Grim Reaper has never been more hilarious! (Image and summary from goodreads.com. I was provided a copy of Death's Academy in exchange for my honest review.)
My Review: Poor Midnight. He's a totally normal Reaper kid who just wants to be amazing. Unfortunately, he happens to be saddled with a dad who did something so humiliating, SO embarrassing that he's the laughing stock of the entire Reaper community. And the Angels. It's so bad Midnight doesn't even know what it is, he just knows he's doomed to carry the burden. Determined as he is to make a name for himself, Midnight takes ridiculous chances with his own safety and the safety of his friends.
Oh, goodness, I really enjoyed this book! It was exactly what the summertime prescribed - creative, silly, and too much fun to put down. It definitely felt a little Harry Potter-eque to me ... the draw toward boarding school, the magical elements, a threat not quite understood ... but there were some aspects that I felt Best nailed. Midnight is a twelve-year old boy. And he has an ego of one. He's pretty sure he's awesome, and he's more sure of his abilities than any kid should be, but I found it endearing, probably because he's also aware when he's in over his head. Unfortunately, that ego also means that he's a little bit of a smart aleck, and I found myself wishing he would show his parents a little bit more respect. (Or, you know, any.) I can see where Best is coming from - Midnight has suffered from the mistakes of his father his whole life. HIS own life has been and will continue to be affected because of it, but no one ever bothered to tell him what happened. His mother is downright derogatory to his father, his father has given up any gumption ... what a confusing place for a child to be.
However, Best has done a great job weaving intrigue into the sad tale. Midnight stumbles onto a plot too crazy to be imagined, but too real to be ignored. Before he knows what he's really doing, Midnight finds himself teamed with his best Reaper friend, his arch-nemesis on the Skullball court, and fighting .... unicorns?! Bits and pieces of his father's history are sprinkled quietly throughout the book, and Midnight starts to discover that perhaps his dad isn't as humiliating as he thought. I find myself anxiously awaiting the second book to get the full story. This is definitely a series I'll be keeping my eye on!
My Rating: Four stars
For the Sensitive Reader: Parental disrespect, fantastical violence. And unicorns are epically evil.