A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Michael's dad values education highly and homeschools his smart son. Professor Edson is fond of quoting Emily Dickinson, Einstein, Oscar Wilde, and others.
The difference between good and evil is rarely crystal-clear, and even those with a skewed moral compass can have admirable qualities. What's black, white, or a shade of gray is a matter of perspective, evident in the ways Michael, his father, the mobsters, the Dictator, Viola, and even the Comet regard the same situation.
Positive Role Models
Michael uses his hypnotic power to his own benefit, but he refuses to deploy it against people close to him. Similarly, Professor Edson makes use of Michael's talent but goes to great lengths to try to keep him safe. Their close relationship is built on loyalty and mutual admiration. Edson makes some lousy choices as a father, but his heart's in the right place.
Violence & Scariness
There's a lot of violence that's appropriate for the genre. Michael spends time in the company of mobsters and goons and reluctantly participates in a gangster meeting that goes terribly wrong. There are several action-packed scenes of peril and violence, including robberies and shootouts. Michael and his father try to avoid getting embroiled in violence themselves. Michael shoots and injures a friend trying to keep him out of the action.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Michael and a friend go to a mall and admire girls. Michael is smitten with one in particular and flirts with her in subsequent scenes. A quick reference to not making it to first base will sail over the heads of readers unfamiliar with the phrase.
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There are some minor tween insults using the words "jerk," "piss," and "turd-faced."
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Products & Purchases
Dozens of brand names and pop culture references include Ms. Pac-Man, LEGO, Sears, Angry Birds, Starbucks, Chuck E. Cheese, White Castle, and Lamborghini.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
None of the main characters drinks or smokes. There's a derisive reference to low-level gangs that push drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that John David's Minion is rooted in a comic book world of villains, gangsters, thugs, goons, and a superhero, and most of the bad guys have redeeming qualities. It's as much about the tender relationship between a father and son as it is about villains and heroes. There are several scenes with gunfire, explosions, and fighting. The novel explores thought-provoking questions of personal responsibility, intent, and harm. Michael has little respect for religious views, a byproduct of his upbringing by nuns. The story is set in the same world as David's earlier book, Sidekicked, but it has different characters and isn't directly related to the first book.
Is It Any Good?
MINION is a little less goofy than Sidekicked, but the very fact that it's more grounded makes it a more affecting read. Minion takes place in the same world as Sidekicked, author John David's excellent novel about an aspiring superhero sidekick, but with a bizarro spin: This time, we're cheering for the bad guys. But how bad are they, really? Michael says his father is more of a mad scientist than an evil genius, a distinction that sets the stage for fascinating conversations about morality, loyalty, personal responsibility, and where people draw the line between good and evil.
Anderson again populates his comic book world with complex, nuanced characters. The relationship between Michael and his adoptive dad is especially touching. It's a satisfying action/adventure that hits sweet notes of melancholy, humor, and hope.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.