The Novice is getting rave reviews on Goodreads. Seriously. Fifty percent of readers left five stars. I think I’m just not the target audience for this one. I gave it a three star rating and passed it to my ten year old, who enjoyed it. Essentially, this is a story you’ve read before, with characters you’ve read before, with personal demons you’ve read about before. It is Pokemon with a cooler cover, and that may be exactly what you are looking for, but I wanted something more complex. I’m leaving you a link to the reading of the first chapter HERE so you can make up your own mind.
Fletcher, an orphaned commoner, learns he has the ability to summon a personal demon. When others learn he has potential as a summoner, he finds himself in the academy and in the middle of fierce competition. There are demons and summoners who are quite like the pairings in the Pokemon world. There is the timeless battle between good and evil. There is a clear perspective about seeing beyond prejudices to the person inside. However, more mature readers are likely to be disappointed by the limited plot and character development. We have seen this predictable plot before — poor kid gets into magic academy and is awesome, so the privileged kids want to take him down, but he has a core set of good friends who help him overcome! It plodded on and on, and offered very few surprises. As much as this book attempted to forward a positive message about acceptance, it got in its own way by making all the high born people horrible, greedy, and remorseless and casting the poor people as kind, pure, and trustworthy. The characters are all very flat — they are either good or bad and they don’t really grow as anything but practitioners of magic. The hero is an angelic snooze-fest who came preprogrammed with morals and self control. The nuances and flaws that bring characters alive are missing entirely from this story. Again, this is a perfectly adequate high fantasy for the folks who can watch a Pokemon movie, but if you wanted something with more depth, this is a pass.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.