Top critical review
It’s About Young Thugs, not About Ninjas!
Reviewed in the United States on July 28, 2019
There is simply no accounting for tastes, right? So many readers apparently “loved” this book, finding it “awesome,” but my 9-year-old boy and I found it to be rude, mean-spirited, and very poorly written. We will avoid this author from now on. My boy was reading this book aloud to me and we were quite interested up until the “ninjas” appeared in the trees. After that, it went downhill, fast, for both of us. The gang of mean (yes, mean) ninja-wanna-be kids had actually bound the hands of a student they had ganged up on and held him captive, and this was right off the bat. And at the end of the story, the hero’s face got literally beaten to a bloody pulp by the gang leader (Where were the school personnel—and why didn’t a “good kid” quickly seek help)? From the beginning, the two cousins reported none of this dangerous physical aggressiveness to their teachers, but, instead, began constantly bickering and spouting sarcastic remarks back and forth to each other, on any subject, none of which were even slightly amusing. The author proceeded to toss out more mysterious occurrences, but never solving their mystery in the book. Examples: It was questioned by the two cousins as to why there were no footprints or signs of activity at the site where the kid was kidnapped and tied up. Never got an explanation. And later, it was never explained how the gang leader managed to get to the money from fund-raising in the first place, in order to steal it. No easy feat, but he managed, no problem! It became obvious right away that this author is very immature, lazy, totally inept at moving a story along with logic, and has to “pad it with fluff” to keep it moving—or else, he just decided to rely on a child-reader’s naivete and hoped the lack of explanations for events would simply never be questioned. The story did have potential, and the author was all over the place with hints about interesting sideline subject matter that might come up later to enhance the storyline, but they were never mentioned again (ADHD, allergy to bee-stings, etc.). Another random bit of story padding which my 9-year-old and I both found annoying was the frequent reference to the gym teacher’s “laziness.” This was rude, disrespectful and totally irrelevant and unnecessary. I could go on, but the intended takeaway here is that the story was NOT about ninjas, but rather, was about how many dead-end-questions-without-answers, or how many cheap-shot, scary or gruesomely shocking occurrences (3-4 mentions of blood from the battered face) he could throw in to keep his young audience interested. The entire “moral object lesson” of standing up for what is right could have been told better in 5 pages, without all the pandering to a kid’s fascination with violence. Nice touch though that, that after the boy’s face had been repeatedly pummeled and bloodied, an adult finally appeared and suggested that maybe the kid should go see the school nurse. You THINK?