Sunday, March 16, 2008

Alfred Kropp series by Rick Yancey

If you’ve been looking for an action packed adventure series with a hint of magic and serious boy appeal for grades 7 and up, look no further than Rick Yancey’s Alfred Kropp series.

Readers will be immediately drawn into Alfred’s extraordinary and somewhat haphazard adventures right from page one of The Exraordinary Adventures of Aldred Kropp. And what adventures! It all starts with Alfred stealing an old sword at his uncle’s insistence. The sword turns out to be the legendary Excalibur (of Arthurian fame) and it falls into the hands of the evil descendant of one of the original Knights of the Roundtable. Feeling responsible, Alfred tries to get the sword back, with the help from another modern day knight. They get the help of a mysterious international organization with serious firepower. Car chases, sword fights, and being falsely labeled an international terrorist make this a page-turner. Alfred’s bumbling but ultimately heroic sense of responsibility makes this accidental hero endearingly likable. The fact that he saves the world is a bonus.

However, the bigger bonus is that there is another Alfred Kropp adventure to crack open, Alfred Kropp: The Seal of Solomon. In the capable hands of Yancey, this second adventure is as wild a ride as the first. It’s just as funny, and Alfred is even more lovable if that’s at all possible. It features an extraction (Alfred getting kidnapped from his not very likable foster parents house), betrayal, magical life-saving blood, jumping out of parachutes, seriously scary demons, rogue agents and yes, a plan to save the world.

More good news is that a third title in the series is about to hit the stores, Alfred Kropp: The Thirteenth Skull. Just having finished the advanced proof, I confess that I couldn’t put it down. This time Alfred himself is the target. After a close call in which his guardian is gravely injured, Alfred chases the culprit responsible. He ends up being falsely arrested for murder and his explanation lands him in a psychiatric hospital. It seems that no one believes he has twice saved the world, that he’s on his second life, and that his blood has magical healing powers. He manages to bargain an escape only to land into more hot water (actually snow and ice in Alfred’s case). With bad guys tracking him at ever turn, and no one to trust, Alfred searches for an honorable way to end the standoff, and survive. You guessed it; it’s another page-turner!

**A word of caution for the squeamish; if blood and gore make you queasy, give this series a pass. Personally, I loved all three and await book 4.

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