Book Review: The League and the Lantern

Finding good books for my older kids is always a challenge. That’s why I was intrigued by The League and the Lantern
by Brian Wells. A clean read, aimed at middle school kids, packed with action and adventure? Definitely a book that I want to check out!

Jake Herndon is on the cusp of seventh grade, and hoping that it’s an improvement over sixth. What started out as a simple class event before the start of the school year, turned out to be the beginning of an adventure filled with intrigue, secret organizations, and a bit of Civil War history thrown in. No one is who they seem to be. Jake and his new friends need to figure out who to trust, and they need to do it fast…

The League and the Lantern certainly delivers a fast-paced story, and unlike a lot of the YA fiction available, it’s a book that I’d feel comfortable letting any of my kids read. There are some “fight scenes”, but no graphic or gratuitous violence. The book is completely free of profanity and sexual references. I would not categorize this as “Christian fiction” specifically, but I don’t believe that Christians would find anything in the story particularly objectionable either.

That being said, there were some things about The League and the Lantern that I didn’t love. After reading the dialog in the first chapter, I asked my IT staff, “Is this how real life 7th graders actually talk?” It drove me a bit nuts, but that’s my typical complaint with the dialog in most YA books. I’m not the target audience though. One of the characters who was an agent sounded more like a kid than a professional in my opinion. Not likely something that would bother a kid reading the book, but it kept bugging me. Personally, I would have preferred more detail in parts of the story. There were several times when I wished that the author had provided more details about the setting and characters, or delved deeper into the backstory. That being said, not everyone has the patience for Tolkien-esque detailing in the books they read! Most kids in this age group would likely prefer a story that moves along and doesn’t get too caught up in details that aren’t vital to the plot.

The writer did play a little fast and loose with history in The League and the Lantern at some points, but he also offers a page on the book website that offers details on what’s fact and what’s fiction. When handing the book to one of my kids, I’d just be sure to remind them that not everything mentioned in the book is historically accurate, and make it a point to discuss some of it with them after they read the book. Because the Civil War figures strongly into the backstory, there’s a bit of the typical idealization of Lincoln in the book. Again, I would just use this as an opportunity to discuss how people, even presidents, make both good and bad decisions.

The League and the Lantern isn’t fine literature, and it’s not exactly my cup of tea. However, it’s a fun book that kids will likely enjoy reading. More importantly, it’s a clean book that I can feel OK about letting my kids read. It could also be a great discussion starter about history. I would not consider it a Living Book to be used for school, but there’s nothing wrong with reading a book just for fun sometimes either. This could be a good option for summer reading, or a book to take along on a road trip. I think it would appeal most to upper elementary and middle school kids who are fans of action and adventure books and movies.

Now, who wants to win a copy? The publisher has graciously offered to allow me to give a copy of The League and the Lantern to one of my readers! How to enter? Just leave me a comment on this blog post telling me what your favorite adventure book or movie was when you were in middle school. I’ll be randomly picking the winner on May 21st, so be sure to comment before then!

Here’s the legal fine print associated with the giveaway:

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Note: I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own, and I received no monetary compensation for my review.

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