[Book Review] The Pathfinders Society (Books 1 and 2)

Book Cover for The Pathfinders Society: Mystery of the Moon Tower

Title: The Mystery of the Moon Tower & The Curse of Crystal Cavern
Author: Francesco Sedita, Prescott Seraydarian, Steve Hamaker (Illustrations)
Genre: MG graphic novel; adventure; quest; mystery
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Book 1: The Young Pathfinders is a graphic novel adventure story featuring a diverse group of kids thrown together in a summer camp project. Researching their town’s history leads to a mysterious, abandoned castle that was once home to an eccentric inventor, and may still be home to great treasure.

Book Cover for The Pathfinders Society: Curse of the Crystal Cavern

Book 2: Fresh from their hair-raising adventures in The Mystery of the Moon Tower, Kyle, Vic, Beth, Harry, and Nate are now hot on the trail of something big! A secret staircase leads down into the unknown, setting them on an exciting chase for clues left by the wealthy explorer Henry Merriweather, who was rumored to have hidden away a priceless treasure. Are the legends real? Where will the five friends end up? And what dangers will they encounter along the way? Because as they’ve come to learn, everything comes at a price… 

Review: 3 stars

These were fun, MG graphic novels. The first book picks up en media res and then jumps to the present where we’re introduced to the new kid, Kyle. He’s quickly taken in by other Pathfinders at a summer camp and they become friends. There’s a rating scale on who can talk to who (cute and funny) and then all of the sudden, C rating kids are talking to A ratings kids with no problem. The actual camp life is not developed much at all because almost immediately, this new found friend group of 6 are all thrown onto this quest for a treasure that really isn’t introduced.

The rest of book 1 (TBC’d in book 2) is about said quest. They go all around the town, looking for clues and end up at the millionaire town-founder’s mansion. Here they learn that the last living descendent is stuck trying to find enough money to save the mansion, or risk handing it over to some quarry developers.

There’s a fun element of magical realism that begins here, sort of. The gang is able to see the past, in these really cool visions at just the right time in their journey. This element of past brought into the future is really interesting to me. I like that the dead speak to the living, even if the kids aren’t sure why or how.

This magical realism is never really developed, or explained, the kids just kind of go, “Uh, sure, this is what life is now, right?” and continue on with the quest.

The quest itself is very scavenger hunt. I like that aspect too. It could be realized in a school setting or a small town to be repeated if someone had enough time. The kids all have their own skills that aid in the quest (Kyle can sketch and draw anything they see, one of the girls has a knack for numbers, the other girl is a history buff, the two other boys are 1. comedic relief and 2. kind of a builder / maker). This allows for everyone to A.B.R (always be ready) for whatever comes next.

I would absolutely read the 3rd book in the series, just to see how the quest turns out! Can the kids save the town, or will it end up in the hands of developers hoping to modernize it?

[Book Review] The Girl from the Sea

Book Cover for The Girl from the Sea

Title: The Girl from the Sea
Author: Molly Knox Ostertag
Genre: graphic novel; ya fiction; LGBTQ fiction; young adult romance
Synopsis: (From Goodreads) Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.

Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn’t seem so stifling anymore.

But Keltie has some secrets of her own. And as the girls start to fall in love, everything they’re each trying to hide will find its way to the surface…whether Morgan is ready or not. 

Review: 4 stars

This was a really cute coming-of-age and coming out story. Morgan is an honest and sweet protagonist. She’s stuck on a small island and afraid of what coming out will mean for her family, her friends, and the people on her island. When she meets Keltie, she struggles with throwing caution to the wind and just being herself. It takes a lot for that to pass.

I loved the way the writer created the storylines and used the texting in a group chat to make it feel very teen-forward.

I wasn’t expecting a selkie when I purchased this, but that lore was fun to dive into also, even though they don’t go too in depth on the history and mythology. Keltie the Selkie made me laugh a little. She was a fun character who spoke her mind, did what was right, and even though she was super black and white to start, she started to figure out how her own humanity fits in with others, a little.

The little brother’s story arc is faint, but there, and I liked how that developed after he out’d his sister (not cool at all). The friction between the two siblings felt very real for me. I didn’t grow up in a divorced home, like Morgan and her brother, but I grew up in a single-parent home, and there were times (too many) when we tried to use secrets against one another to be on mom’s good side longest. That felt super real to me.

Overall, I think this will be a great addition to my classroom library.