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A Reader of Fictions: Hook: Main Themes - John Williams

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hook: Main Themes - John Williams

Ordinary Magic

Author: Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
Pages: 276
ARC Acquired from: Bloomsbury Children's Books via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
In Abby’s world, magic isn’t anything special: it’s a part of everyday life. So when Abby learns that she has zero magical abilities, she’s branded an “Ord”—ordinary, bad luck, and quite possibly a danger to society.

The outlook for kids like Abby isn’t bright. Many are cast out by their families, while others are sold to treasure hunters (ordinary kids are impervious to spells and enchantments). Luckily for Abby, her family enrolls her in a school that teaches ordinary kids how to get around in a magical world. But with treasure-hunting kidnappers and carnivorous goblins lurking around every corner, Abby’s biggest problem may not be learning how to be ordinary—it’s whether or not she’s going to survive the school year!

First Sentence: "The day of my Judging dawned bright and clear and hot."

This book is so freaking cute and clever. I just adored it right from the beginning. It's a little bit Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and a bit Harry Potter and a bit ordinary. Now, please do not take too much away from the HP comparison. The plot isn't HP at all; it's more the atmosphere and the cast of quirky characters, and the boarding school setting.

In Abby's world, magic is normal. The weird people are those without any magical powers. On her Judging day, where her level of magical abilities will be determined, she's not worried at all, because everyone in her family is crazy talented. Besides, ords (ordinary, magicless people) are RARE. She's never met one. Until she learns she IS one. I just loved this concept. I love when what is ordinary is turned on its head.

The plot was the only thing that was a bit weak, very middle grade. Basically, ords can be useful for a couple of things, so they are generally sold as slaves to adventurers who use them to break into places guarded by magic, which doesn't affect ords. The big bads of the book are some adventurers determined to capture Abby and make her their little ord slave. While the concept is fascinating, they just do not have the evilness of a good villain, and I was never particularly concerned about what would happen.

What made this book completely awesome were the characters. There really wasn't a character I was not entertained by, except perhaps Trixie. Everyone is unique and funny and just bursting with life. The writing is full of humor. My favorite character was probably Peter, because I have a soft spot for people who are hard on the outside buy squishy soft on the inside.

I want to share a bit with you as a perfect example of the tone of the book. This was one of my favorite parts. On her first day at the ord boarding school, the headmaster delivers this delightfully sarcastic speech:
" 'Well, I see you're all here. Again.' Her brisk, warm voice carried through the crowd 'Now, you know I don't like to give speeches'—someone choked off a laugh—'but this is an extraordinary occasion. I could not let it go by without saying...how disappointed I am.' Everyone at my table sat up straight, darting quick, worried glances at each other, but all around us the other kids were smiling. 'Yes, another year has started, and we have exactly the same number of students as last year. Not one single student was lost.' "
Isn't that just the best? The headmaster gives a hilarious, ironic speech to scare the newbies. I was much amused. The speech continues to relate all the ways in which the students DIDN'T manage to die.

Ordinary Magic is fresh and fun. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes stories full of magic, even if the characters aren't. Based on the ending, I suspect more are on the way, and I hope that that is the case.

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote:
"After ten whole minutes of painful silence, I finally raised my hand and told Mr. O'Hara I loved Miranda Blythe's romance novels, and I decided I liked him immediately when he didn't laugh or reassure me that we'd be reading real books. Like Mrs. Andrews had last year.
     He did say, 'I'm afraid Ms. Blythe is not on the curriculum this semester. We'll be starting your education with the epic poets—boring, I know, but necessary building blocks. However, an extra-credit book report is always welcome, and you're free to choose whatever topic you like.'
     Then Mr. O'Hara added, 'I think Ms. Blythe's works would be a particularly interesting topic for a report. In fact, if you want an example of the archetypal hero journey—'
     'Wait, wait, wait.' Fred raised his hand. 'You read romance novels?'

     'My dear boy,' Mr. O'Hara replied, 'I read everything.'"
About Today's Soundtrack: I know this is a weird choice, but I think this has a bit of a magic sound, as well as adventure and humor.

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