By: Braden Bell
Review by: Kylie Comfoltey
Conner Dell is 13 years old. He loves lacrosse...and possibly his twin sister Lexa's best friend, Melanie. He is a loyal friend and a good student who suddenly finds himself getting into trouble. Or maybe the trouble is finding him? After setting the school bully's gym shorts on fire by force of will, Conner learns that his previously-slumbering powers have come to life--and everything is about to change.
The Kindling is an exciting, page-turning mound of magical middle grade fun wrapped up in one funny, yet sometimes dark, fantasy novel--just as promised.
I flew through this book! The characters are fun and goofy, the adults are encouraging and supportive (for the most part), and it's a classic Light vs Dark power struggle. Right up my alley. I'm hoping for more Pilaf in the next installment! I can see a story churning in that boy.
I enjoyed the fast-paced nature of The Kindling. Kids will be sucked into the magic. There was just so much to smile at. Having twin brothers myself, I like twins and Braden Bell has twins covered perfectly with a fun brother/sister relationship between Conner and Lexa. They know each other very well and sometimes annoy each other, but never pull any of those obnoxious psychic twin moments. This was a realistic twin relationship. Bravo!
The budding romance between Conner and Melanie is very cute. Sweet little sprinklings of romance here and there ("aww, her hand is so soft!"), shuffled in with awkward, embarrassing moments. It was perfectly developed for young readers.
At times the story felt a bit jumbled, almost like it wanted to be written in first-person but had to be changed up to give the tri-character viewpoints that were prevalent throughout. Like my previous sentence, some areas felt a bit unclear, but I expect things will be cleared up in future books. Kids will eat this up. Read The Kindling as middle grade and enjoy it!
The Kindling is imaginative and fun, and also full of teaching moments. I could feel that Bell wanted kids to be entertained, but that he also wanted to inspire in the reader a love of learning. There were little tidbits of knowledge peppered throughout the story and I loved it. Bell makes learning seem cool and exciting, just as it's meant to be. Thank you, Braden Bell!
This was a great read, perfect for preteens and younger teenagers. In short: it's good, clean fun. We don't review a large amount of MG here, but I am a huge fan! Keep an eye out for at least a handful of MG reviews this year. They are delightful and positive and generally leave the reader happy and smiling. Can't beat that.
Sexuality: None. Sweet innocent, I-wanna-hold-your-hand romance.
Violence: Mild. There are some good vs evil fight scenes, but very little bloody detail.
Bonus: Read the first few chapters for free on Braden Bell's website!