Friday, February 27, 2015

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

From the publisher:

For years, Old Gregory has been the Spook for the county, ridding the local villages of evil. Now his time is coming to an end. But who will take over for him? Twenty-nine apprentices have tried—some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive.

Only Thomas Ward is left. He's the last hope, the last apprentice.

Galesburg Public Library's Chapter Chompers Teen Book Club read The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch as its February selection.  Overall, the seven teens who attended our discussion of the book had some very mixed opinions.  First, the positives: book club members really enjoyed drawing comparisons between the characters in the book and various historical figures (16th-17th century European "witches") and even mythological figures (one book club member compared the Spook to Hermes, the Greek conductor of souls into the afterlife).  The teens were really intrigued by the character of Mam and had lots of questions about who she really is: is she good or evil? What is her connection to the Spook?  In general, she was the teens' favorite character in the book, a real "boss mom" according to one teen.

The teens had a lot of complaints about the book as well, though. First and foremost: they didn't really like Tom, the main character, all that much. When asked to describe him, book club members first couldn't remember his name ("easily forgettable!" proclaimed one teen), and then listed such attributes as "boring," "possibly an idiot," and "horrible with babies." It seemed like a number of plot contrivances came together to make things reeeaaaallly convenient for Tom. Tinderbox, anyone? The teens also did not like how girls and women were treated in the book, with one teen reader describing the Spook as "sexist as heck."

The Chapter Chompers 5-point book rating system is as follows:
1 (lowest ranking) = 1 pizza
2 = 2 pizzas
3 = 3 pizzas
4 = breadsticks
5 = unitado

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch achieved a rating of 1 pizza. It is available in libraries and bookstores now.

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