The Goblin Crown (Billy Smith And The Goblins, Book 1), by Robert Hewitt Wolfe
[Note: This book was provided by Turner Publishing Company in exchange for an honest review.]
In a book review like this it is best to begin with some honesty. I could honestly relate far too well to the clumsy bi-racial perennial outsider of this novel who happens to be the main hero, Billy Smith. I too have loved my fair share, and perhaps more than my fair share, of fiery and beautiful young women with a fondness for the color red while ending up embarrassing myself as Billy does with the beautiful Filipina Lexi Aquino, and created more than my fair share of trouble as happens here when the two of them anger a jock who ends up joining them in a strange journey to a fantasy planet inhabited by a brutal human empire, a beleaguered goblin society, and some crazy elves. Although I am not the ideal audience for this book, as someone who reads a great deal of teen and YA fiction , this has the look of a book that is destined for a film adaptation of some kind.
What is it about this book that has such strong adaptation credentials? For one, the author comes from a background of television scriptwriting, and that craft shows here. For another, this is a story that works on several levels. It serves as a hidden prince story where the hero is viewed as a screw-up and a nobody by nearly everyone until he proves himself in immensely difficult circumstances. It serves as story about outsiders banding together against impossible odds, of the mourning over past loss, the living in fear and terror over impending loss, and the experience of a great deal of loss. The book is not only heavy on compelling action, including multiple plot lines that end up converging in a horrible way, but it is also full of emotional depth, and lessons that are easily applicable for the readers in the real world who have to deal with social embarrassments and feeling as if they are misfits and outsiders who don’t belong. Best yet, the story ends on a strong cliffhanger note that is natural and well-earned, leaving the reader looking forward to the next installment in this compelling and exciting tale.
Aside from the story, there is a great deal to appreciate about the story. The cast of characters is rich and diverse. Billy and his friends form a strong multi-ethnic group, and they end up finding allies and friends among a diverse and complicated group of goblins as well as human exiles among the Goblins whose dualistic faith leads them to be viewed as archheretics among the evil human empire that Billy and his friends fight. Also, and not least, it should be noted, the book is full of great lessons about courage as well as self-control, lessons provided through the story itself and its complicated characters, and lessons that ought to be rewarding to the readers of this story. This is the sort of story that will not only excite, but also encourage a strong set of values about learning how to communicate and respect and get along with others as well as stand up for what is right without being swallowed up in the use and exercise of power. This is a book that seems destined to be a well-beloved fantasy series for teen and YA readers and also seems likely to be headed to a multiplex near you once it finds its large and enthusiastic audience.
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