Monster Hunters: Nightmare Academy: Book 1

Common Sense Media says

Familiar and predictable but lots of fun.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Much sexist talk by the characters.


Magical fighting, a monster's arm is severed, people are reduced to ash, a boy beats up another boy, a boy has his toe bitten off by a monster, a monster's eyes are cut off, two monsters fight and tear each other open.


A kiss.


A bit of mild swearing.


Frozen drink, mp3 player brands.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink whiskey.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is some fantasy violence here, not especially graphic, some mild swearing, and several of the characters engage in sexist talk.

Parents say

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Kids say

What's the story?

Charlie discovers that he has the power to bring monsters into our world from the Netherworld -- in fact his power may be the strongest ever -- so he is taken to Nightmare Academy to learn how to control his power and use it to help the Nightmare Division keep the world free of monsters. But once there he accidentally opens a portal to Barakkas, one of the Named, the four most powerful monsters, and discovers a plot by the Named to unleash the monsters of the Netherworld on Earth.

Is it any good?


Let's grant all the obvious criticism right up front. Yes, this bears more than a passing similarity to the story of another boy who goes off to boarding school to learn magic. Yes, the plot is derivative and predictable, and the characters are flat clichés. But if the variations are intriguing, the action exciting, and the pacing tight, it hardly matters. This book is just fun.

First-time novelist Dean Lorey joins the ranks of screenwriters who have made the transition to children's books, and found that their cinematic skills stand them in good stead in their new endeavor. Visual imagination, crisp pacing, and clear plotlines are helpful, if not essential, for both, and Lorey has those down pat. This may not be great literature, but it's well-written, and does what it sets out to do quite well. Many kids, including some who are nearing but not quite ready for Rowling, and others who are reluctant readers, will find lots to enjoy here.

From the Book:
Towering over him, it raised its long, curved stinger, preparing to strike. A thick, poisonous-looking fluid oozed from the tip. Charlie's knees went watery and he dropped to the ground.

"Don't," he said.

The monster's tail whistled furiously down toward him with the force of a sledgehammer.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Rowling formula. Does it bother you when books follow a similar path to the Harry Potter books? Or do you like it? What makes one version of the formula successful and another not? How is this one different from Harry Potter? Is it the similarities or differences that you like? Did Rowling invent the formula, or can you think of similar stories that came before her?

Book details

Author:Dean Lorey
Illustrator:Brandon Dorman
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:August 1, 2008
Number of pages:312
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10

This review of Monster Hunters: Nightmare Academy: Book 1 was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old August 25, 2009

perfect for kids 8 and up.

I really like the book. I think it is even better than goosebumps! If you read it you will really love it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 12 years old November 22, 2011


What other families should know
Educational value
Kid, 10 years old April 2, 2011

Great for anyone over 8

A great book, even though the storyline is quite predictable it is a great read an I got totally hooked on this book.


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