Author: Pseudonymous Bosch
Series: Companion to The Secret series
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Review by: Tessa
Clay is not a stranger to bad words. He learned his first one at the young age of three. There is not much that he has not heard before. But, there is one word that causes him to cringe every time he hears it -- magic. It is a word that crushed everything that Clay believed in. It filled his childhood with lies, empty promises, and confusion. Magic also caused Clay's older brother to disappear. He has not been seen since. Now, years later, magic has returned with a vengeance in Clay's life. He was expelled from school and banished to a isolated camp for "bad kids" because he was blamed for someone else's magic trick.
Earth Ranch: A Camp for Wayward Teens
As it turns out, isolated island camps are not as normal as Clay thought. Llamas are the primary residents along with a couple of campers and countless warrior bees that surround the camps border.
White vog (volcanic ash + smog) coated the island in a suffocating haze. The blackened lava and stifling heat made living on the island very different from your normal resort. But no amount of vog could cover the island's mysterious secrets, puzzling people, and the occasional ghost or two.White vog (volcanic ash + smog) coated the island in a suffocating haze. The blackened lava and stifling heat made living on the island very different from your normal resort. But no amount of vog could cover the island's mysterious secrets, puzzling people, and the occasional ghost or two.
This book was cute, mysterious, and just plain old quirky.
Whenever you combine Spanish-speaking llamas, enigmatic islands, guardian bees, and a camp full of juvenile delinquents, a book gets 1000x more interesting. Add in that Pseudonymous Bosch wrote it and it is automatically amazing.
There was a spectrum of characters, everything from an anarchist with an afro to a kleptomaniac who had a fetish for wallets. Almost everything was extremely bizarre, but was not overdone. Bosch has a talent for blending what is real and what is ridiculous into a story that would attract readers of all ages.
One of the things that I loved the most was the mystery and intrigue that continued throughout the book. As soon as I thought that I had figured something out, it was revealed that I was wrong and I was left wondering again. I will fully admit that I did not see the ending coming at all.
And yes folks, this is a middle grade book. I must be an idiot for not being able to figure out the ending, right? Wrong. Sure, there were allusions and a couple of instances of foreshadowing, but only someone with a mind as creative (or bizarre) as Bosch's would have been able to figure it out (I believe that Bosch has his unique kind of thinking). Even though this book is labelled middle grade, it will appeal to anyone who loves mystery, action, and the bizarre.
Another great thing about this being a middle grade book is the scarcity of romance. Normally, I love a good relationship and everything else that goes along with that, but it can really take away from the action and momentum of a book. Thankfully, the romance in this book was minimal and let the action be the true star of the book. But, the little romance (if you can call crushes between preteens romance) was super sweet and just the right amount of awkward. Frankly, it was quite refreshing.
The pacing was a drawback, which is unfortunate because books have to keep my attention. Due to this, it took me about a week to finish this book. I would pick it up, enjoy it for about fifteen minutes, then hit a lull in the action and put the book back down. I am like a hard-to-please three year old sometimes. If I do not get my purple stuffed unicorn at the exact moment that I want it, then I will wait a maximum of fifteen minutes (or about 20 pages) then throw a tantrum (close the book and angrily walk away).
I would recommend Bad Magic to fans of the bizarre, mysterious, and quirky. If you like the idea of talking llamas and haunted volcanoes, then this is the book for you. Also, if you will enjoy this book if you like sarcasm and action without a ton of romantic interference.
I would not recommend Bad Magic if you get frustrated with mysteries that you cannot solve. You should probably not read Bad Magic if you have trouble wrapping your head around extremely bizarre situations or if you do not like stories that stray too far from the realistic.