I've been successfully achieving all three plans I made for myself over the break: reading, writing, and relaxing. In fact, for four days straight I was a hermit and read both books of the Candy Shop Wars series by Brandon Mull.
Book number one, The Candy Shop War, was I believe, supposed to be a stand alone book, but then Brandon Mull ended up writing the next one called Arcade Catastrophe.
The series begins with ten-year old hero Nate Sutter moving to a new state. It's summer time and his mom sees some kids his age outside on their bikes and suggests the sulking Nate to go make friends. Nate meets the kids who are part of a club, and after going after a bully, is accepted into the club. There's Summer, the fearless one, Trevor, who we never really get to know very well, and Pigeon. Pigeon's real name is Paul, and he's the nerdy brains of the group. Pidge is my favorite probably because he's the one whose character is developed the most, even though he's not the number 1 hero of the series.
One afternoon the foursome head over to the new candy shop in their small town but don't have money for all the delicious candy. The owner, Mrs. White, allows them to do small chores around the shop in exchange for candy. The candy is so decadent that they go back every afternoon and work hard just to earn more treats. She "accidentally" lets slip that she has some special candy that's not out for sale. To get that candy, they must do some tasks for her. When they successfully accomplish the first harmless task, she gives them Moon Rocks and instructs them to suck on them somewhere beyond prying eyes. The candy allows them to become weightless and they can jump and bounce around and have lots of fun.
|The fudge is like a drug, causing the adults to not|
know what's going on
Takeaways from book one: There's not much character development, and the kids, especially Nate, are a bit bratty at the beginning. Brandon Mull softens out them out as the story progresses though. I loved the creativity with the candy. My favorite line from the book is by one of the bullies who starts working for Mrs. White after the others turn against her: Trust me, we have candy you guys haven't seen. What an awesome threat! Lastly, I couldn't help but think about the game Clue every time I read "Mrs. White."
Book Two: Arcade Catastrophe
I won't give too much away because the book directly relates to the end of the first book. Instead of a magic candy shop, this time the new bad guy has set up an arcade that sells nachos that have the same effect as the white fudge. If you get enough tickets, you get a stamp on your hand and join the respective club: you can become a jet, tank, racer, or sub. The stamps are magical of course, giving the recipient the stated power. Nate becomes a jet and gets the ability to fly, and Pigeon becomes a sub with awesome underwater abilities. The evil magician is after something that could destroy the world, and it's up to the four friends, plus a new one to thwart the plan. There's some really good action scenes and suspense, and more magical powers. Besides the stamps, my favorite new magic candy is Beastial Biscuits. Like animal crackers except you turn into the animal you eat! Trevor gets to become a wolf and a Kodiak bear.
I'll end the review with my favorite line from book two: Like some of the best people I employ, she understands that she need not be defined by her past. We are who we choose to become.”
Concluding thoughts: I really enjoyed the series and hoping he will write a third. He left it open so will have to see. If you enjoy fun, magical adventures with some nice surprises, then I recommend the series.