Thank you NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Synopsis: Xander Miyamoto would rather do almost anything than listen to his sixth grade teacher, Mr. Stedman, drone on about weather disasters happening around the globe. If Xander could do stuff he’s good at instead, like draw comics and create computer programs, and if Lovey stop harassing him for being half Asian, he might not be counting the minutes until the dismissal bell.
When spring break begins at last, Xander plans to spend it playing computer games with his best friend, Peyton. Xander’s father briefly distracts him with a comic book about some samurai warrior that pops out of a peach pit. Xander tosses it aside, but Peyton finds it more interesting.
Little does either boy know that the comic is a warning. They are about to be thrust into the biggest adventure of their lives–a journey wilder than Xander has ever imagined, full of weird monsters even worse than Lovey. To win at this deadly serious game they will have to rely on their wits, courage, faith, and especially, each other. Maybe Xander should have listened to Mr. Stedman about the weather after all…
I have to be honest and admit this was kind of an impulse request from NetGalley, but now I’m quite glad I did.
Xander Miyamoto is an underdog many kids will relate to. He’s incredibly smart yet due to his small size, lack of athletic prowess, and mixed Asian ancestry, is a bit of a misfit. He’s got a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor which makes him even more appealing. When he’s abruptly thrust into this epic quest where he has to not only save his father but also the world, he expresses misgivings over whether he is the right person for this, yet accepts the mantle of responsibility that has been thrust upon him. Accompanying him on his journey is his best friend Peyton, who I loved. Everyone should have a Peyton in their lives. He’s protective of Xander and extremely loyal. When Xander is having moments of self-doubt, it’s Peyton who time after time comes up with just the right encouraging words. Their relationship was one of my favorite parts of the book. The only character I didn’t care for is the rather obnoxious Jinx, a girl they meet who has ulterior motivations. I never really warmed up to her, even near the end when her backstory was revealed. I felt sympathy for what she had been through, but I still didn’t like her personality. The world-building is fantastic and the fast pacing kept me turning the pages. The charming illustrations by Choong Yung adds further enjoyment to this well written story.
With Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters, Margaret Dilloway has breathed new life into an ancient Japanese folktale. Filled with monsters and shape-shifting demons, the story is lightened by moments of levity. This is a great book for children who are in 4th-6th grade and I believe fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson will be entranced by it.