I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimee Carter
Series: Simon Thorn #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA on 2016-02-02
Genres: fantasy, Friendship, Middle-Grade
Source: the Publisher
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A thrilling debut in the tradition of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull about a boy who discovers a secret race of animal shape shifters.
Twelve-year-old Simon Thorn’s life has never been easy or normal, but things like being bullied at school and living in a cramped Manhattan apartment with his Uncle Darrell are nothing compared to his biggest secret: He can talk to animals.
But when his mom is suddenly kidnapped by a herd of rats, Simon finds out that he, his mom, and his uncle are all Animalgams—people born with the ability to change into an animal at will.
In search of his mom, Simon discovers the Animalgam Academy based at the Central Park Zoo. There he learns about the fractured five kingdoms that make up this secret world . . . and realizes he may be the only one who can save it.
This action-packed page-turner is perfect for fans of the Spirit Animals and The School of Good and Evil series.
I’m really excited to be a part of the blog tour for this book and even more excited that I’ve found a new middle-grade fantasy series for my kids! If your’s are anything like mine, they go through books like crazy and leave you searching like a mad woman for new ones just to keep them busy. It’s even more special when we find a book we can all enjoy and Simon Thorn proved to be one of those. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of this series as it develops!
I had no idea what to expect from this book. I did not like Carter’s Pawn but I really liked the synopsis for this one, so I decided to give it a try. And I’m really glad I did. Simon is a great main character for the middle-grade readers and the book provided non-stop action and twists even I didn’t see coming. I’d definitely recommend this book to middle-grade fans and kids who enjoy fantasy books.
The start of this book has a definite Percy Jackson feel to it. The main character is a twelve year old boy who lives with his uncle and only rarely sees his mother. He also has a special ability, he can speak to and understand animals. This makes him very popular with the pigeons on his stoop that want food but very unpopular with the kids at school. But as he’s starting middle school, he’s also being hunted by different groups of the animal kingdom for reasons he doesn’t even know. Several things put the main plot into motion and we’re left rooting for Simon along the way but not really knowing who can be trusted and where his loyalties should lie. He makes some friends along the way, learns what it means to be brave, and starts trusting himself and who he really is. There are a lot of similarities to Percy Jackson but it didn’t feel like a copy of it at all. Just a really good action-adventure fantasy middle-grade book!
As with the start of any series, we get a lot of background information in this book right along with Simon who has been kept out of the Animalgam world his whole life and is learning everything he can about it now that he’s caught in the middle of it. So there are passages that get bogged down a bit in info dumping but the author does a decent job at keeping them interesting enough for the younger crowd so it isn’t a huge complain. The action keeps the plot moving along and we get to experience several different settings. I did get a little lost in all the tunnels and hallways of the Den but I don’t tend to focus on details like that so it didn’t bother me.
As far as the characters go, I really liked Simon. He’s the perfect kind of kid you want to root for in books like this. He gets bullied in regular school for not fitting in because he can talk to animals but really it’s just because he hasn’t found his place yet. When he finds out what he really is, he really starts to come out of his shell and feel more confident in himself. He’s always been brave, just for being who he is while others bully him and wanting to protect his friend, but he really learns how brave he is once he’s in the Animalgam world and it’s really great to see him stand up for what he believes in. Also, it was great to see the importance of family and friendship in this one. I think it’s always going to be important in middle-grade novels but I liked that this one focuses on not only our blood family but those that become important to us and those who are willing to stand with us. Simon’s friends in the Den are loyal and not necessarily those you’d immediately think you’d want on your side but who prove to be smart and brave like Simon.
Other themes we can see in this book are being proud of who you are, that good and bad isn’t always as black and white as you may think, and power isn’t always a good thing. Simon learns a lot in this book and is betrayed by some he thought he could trust, but he stays strong and optimistic and still trusts those he loves. And he knows how to forgive. Which is something that can be hard for all of us to do.
Simon is a really good start to a series and I’m excited to see where it’s going. I had a hard time predicting where this first installment was going so I really have no ideas what’s coming up next! I hope it’s good things for Simon and his friends. I also hope young people will find this book and enjoy it. It has a lot of action, a lot of animals, a lot of twists, and some emotional parts. I think kids who loved Percy Jackson or Wings of Fire will like this book too. There are five different animal kingdoms, a war about to happen between some of them, a lost heir, parents in trouble, friendships to be made, and adventures to go on. I definitely recommend this book for the middle-grade crowd!
3 Finished Copies of Simon Thorn (US Only)