Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham

Title:  Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure

Author:  Royce Buckingham

Hardcover:  232 pages

Date Published:  2008

Publisher:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons (div of Penguin Young Readers Group)

ISBN:  9780399250026

PJ put on one of his father’s spare POLICE jackets. “C’mon, we’re already here.  Besides, you said it takes an hour round trip to get to the border crossing and back.  Any smugglers would probably still be forty minutes away.”

PJ was reaching to put the car into park when something moved in the darkness.  A patch of shadow shifted against a background of dark trees.  As soon as he noticed it, it was gone.  “What was that?” he said.

“What was what?” Sam said, staring into the forest.  “I can’t see a thing.  It’s pitch-black.”

PJ reached down and flipped the headlight switch.  The sudden light glared on a dark, husky human shape in front of the car.  It waved a club-shaped object and brought it down onto the metal hood of the cruiser.

Wham!

“Smuggler!” Sam yelled.

PJ’s foot was still on the gas pedal.  He jammed it down instinctively, and the car lurched forward.  There was no time for the figure to move.  Thud!  It went down like a bowling pin and disappeared beneath the bumper.

PJ hit the brakes and the police cruiser jerked to a stop.  He took a deep breath and quickly locked the door.

“You hit him!” Sam cried.

“I know,” PJ breathed, staring into the woods.

“He’s under the car!”

“I know!”

“What if he’s a farmer or something?”  Sam said.

“You’re the one who screamed that he was a smuggler.”

“How do I know who he is?”

“It’s your stupid little town!”  PJ snapped.

A low, pained growl rose from beneath the car.

“He’s alive,” PJ said, relieved.  “Let’s get out of here.”

“We can’t leave him,” Sam said.  “There’s no way he can be okay after you smushed him.”

PJ shook his head.  “Dude, I just ran over a guy in a borrowed police car.  My instincts tell me to drive far away and never speak of this again.”

-Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, pages 16-17

Goblins! by Royce Buckingham has been some of the most fun 200-some pages of reading I’ve had in a while.  The characters are normal, average teens who are called upon to act in extraordinary ways to save each other and to protect their world from the goblins of the UnderEarth. 

One of the things I like about this book is that there are no 100% evil bad guys in the book, they’re a mix of good and bad.  While PJ would prefer to stay out of things, he chooses to step up and take responsibility for his actions and for Sam, who was left in his care by his father.  Sam wants adventure, and bites off a lot more than he can chew, but nevertheless manages to prove he has a heart of a warrior.  The goblins have silly, descriptive names like “General Eww-Yuk,” “Slurp,” “Slouch,” “Thick,” etc,  enjoy eating humans, fighting, humans as well as each other, are dumber than a bag of hammers, yet they are extremely inquisitive and quick to learn and adapt.

Another thing that I liked about Goblins! is that the writing is simple, the details are just enough to make things easy to picture but not so thick that it bogs you down.  At times it reminds me of The Spiderwick Chronicles, and at other times Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Besides having a highly imaginative setting and great actions scenes, including 7 foot bugs-versus-human battles, it also has a great sense of humor.  It is a book with teenagers as the heroes and main characters, so the surliness and sarcasm of the age often shines through.  For instance:  When Sam is brought before General Eww-yuk by the goblin Bargle

“Have you talked to it?” Eww-yuk asked.

“Yes,” Bargle said.  “It barks the words ‘screw’ and ‘off’ … over and over.”

-Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham, page 71

I think this book is ideal for the tweenage-early teen years, 9-14, and probably more for boys than girls, though I think Mags will enjoy and laugh at it.  I’d also like to warn that this book does contain the deaths of central characters that readers may get attached to, so if your reader is potentially sensitive to this, then you might want to wait. 

For being one of the most enjoyable, reality-suspending, relaxing books I’ve read in a long time, a book that wasn’t teaching the reader or delivering a message (if it was, I didn’t notice at all), a book that was just like losing 25 years and being on the playground again…  I give Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham 4 out of 5 stars.  It probably won’t win any awards, but it is pure pleasure.

 

Don’t forget to sign up to win a copy of Goblins! An UnderEarth Adventure in the Great Goblins! Giveaway. Contest ends 11;59 pm, May 31st, with the winner to be announced on Monday, June 1st!

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Title: New Moon
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Paperback: 563 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: 2006
ISBN: 9780316024969

“Bella, we’re leaving… I mean my family and myself.” Each word separate and distinct.

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll come with you.”

He took a deep breath and stared, unseeingly, at the ground for a long moment. His mouth twisted the tiniest bit. When he finally looked up, his eyes were different, harder – like the liquid gold had frozen solid.

“Bella, I don’t want you to come with me.” He spoke the words slowly and precisely, his cold eyes on my face, watching as I absorbed what he was really saying.

“You… don’t… want me?” I tried out the words, confused by the way they sounded, placed in that order.

He looked away into the trees as he spoke again. “Of course, I’ll always love you… in a way. But… I’m tired of pretending to be something I’m not, Bella. I’m not human.” He looked back, and the icy planes of his perfect face were not human. “I’ve let this go on much too long, and I’m sorry for that.”

“Don’t.” My voice was just a whisper now; awareness was beginning to seep through me, trickling like acid through my veins. “Don’t do this.”

He just stared at me, and I could see from his eyes that my words were far too late. He already had.

“You’re not good for me, Bella.” He turned his earlier words around, and so I had no argument. How well I knew that I wasn’t good enough for him.

 

In New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, I was forced to witness the horror of Bella and Edward’s breakup. I thought, “NO! THAT’S NOT RIGHT! I’m calling information RIGHT NOW and getting Ms Meyer’s phone number and BAWLING HER OUT!” But then reason washed over me as I realised this was just page 71, and I still had nearly 500 more pages to go, not to mention two more books… maybe good ol’ Steph has something planned. So I put the anger monkey back in her cage, turned the page and read on.

So, in the absence of my Edward, Bella kind of implodes on herself, going about the routines of life without awareness. I believe this state is called dissociative depression, or in layman’s terms, “The lights are on, but nobody’s home.” Until one morning Charlie (her father) threatens to send her back to live with her mother. The sudden threat of leaving the world in which Edward and her inhabited as a couple snaps her awake, and promises Charlie she’ll be better.

With the thought of reestablishing something normal in her life, Bella tries to reestablish relationships with her school chums. But when she’s in Port Angeles with Jessica walking to McD’s Bella experiences a moment of deja vu in a dark alley with four strange men. Along with a sense of threat and danger Bella hears Edward’s voice inside her head admonishing her to run. The discovery that adrenaline and risky behavior brings on an auditory hallucination, Bella turns to extreme (for her) recreation. She gets a couple motor bikes and rekindles a friendship with Jacob Black, who fixes up one of the bikes for her (the other’s for him) and teaches her how to ride.

This is when everything in the book goes screwy. Jake, as you may or may not recall, has really got a thing for Bella, and is in serious like-almost-obsessed-love with her. And Bella begins to start to think “Oh, well! If I can’t have Mr. Right… I guess I could settle for Mr. Handy!” Ugh! Every time I thought, “NO! THAT’S NOT RIGHT! I’m calling information RIGHT NOW and getting Ms Meyer’s phone number and BAWLING HER OUT!” But then I remembered there are still two more books and about 250 pages left, so I put the anger monkey back in her cage, turned the page and read on.

I really love, and am addicted to, the Twilight books. I have to wait for Eclipseto arrive in the mail from another BookMooch member before I can go on, but I think I can hold out for a second on it… I hope.

I did have a few issues with New Moon, though. First off: The whole “damsel in distress” thing is wearing a little thin for me. When she doesn’t have the friendly neighborhood vampires to protect her, the werewolves take up the standard to keep ickle widdle Belwa safe! It’s beginning to chafe.

and yes, Second: Werewolves? Vampires just didn’t have enough bite to keep reader interest? She had to go WEREWOLF?

Which brings me to my Third irritation: Is Bella really that stupid? or was Meyer’s dragging out the story for as long as possible? It took Bella two hundred pages to figure out Jake was a werewolf. I had that one figured out in like ten, tops. When she’s in the meadow and the “giant bears” show up, I knew right then what they were, AND remembered Jacob’s story he told her on the beach of La Push in the first book. But she was all like, “Duh? I think those bears look a bit more like dogs than Grizzlies… I know, they might be mutant wolves or something!” When I read that, I thought, “NO! THAT’S NOT RIGHT! I’m calling information RIGHT NOW and getting Ms Meyer’s phone number and BAWLING HER OUT!”

Okay… I want my copy of Eclipse, NOW!

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