The Blood Guard
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Blood Guard is the start of a planned fantasy trilogy. No surprise that with the word "blood" in the title, some blood is spilled. A few almost-deaths are violent -- especially a beheading and a truck running someone over -- but the acts aren't shown and the good guys have regenerative powers. One bad guy dies for real from electrocution. Teens are chased, kidnapped, and threatened with hand amputation. A few skirmishes involve swords, guns, and martial arts moves. All other content is pretty mild, with some mentions of PS3 games and a couple shout-outs to the main character's mom being a "badass." Teen characters must decide who the good guys and the bad guys are. They always choose the good side and fight for them bravely.
What's the story?
"Don't trust anyone." That's what 13-year-old Ronan's mother says when she drops him at the train station. This, after she dispatches a handful of baddies with lightning-fast martial-arts moves and hastily explains her involvement in a secret society called the Blood Guard. The bad guys have taken Ronan's father and are after him next, so Ronan's mom sends him to meet another member of the Blood Guard while she figures out why. She thinks her son is safe at the station, but that's when Ronan's harrowing journey really starts. The station is swarming with the enemy, and the only person waiting for him on the train is a slovenly pickpocket. Is this guy really his Blood Guard contact? Should Ronan trust him?
Is it any good?
THE BLOOD GUARD sure gets off to a great start. Ronan's mom kicks some butt, drops a bombshell about her secret life, then drops him at a train station crawling with bad guys. Then he's on the run. Then he meets Hawkins, his pickpocket protector, and Greta, a girl with mad skills -- she was trained by her FBI father. Then they're on the run. And still on the run. And getting chased -- same thing. Exciting for a while, sure, but the reader needs to know the point of it all way before the middle of the book. "They must be the bad guys because they're chasing us and look mean," we're told -- but that's not enough to go on.
Revelations about the Blood Guard and the opposing secret society (the Bend Sinister -- fabulous name!) finally come to light, albeit pretty late in the game. Still, with Greta and Ronan's place in the Blood Guard established by the end, the sequel looks promising.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the sinister device called the Eye of the Needle that Ronan and Greta find. How did it get its name? What does it do? Do you think that would even be possible?
Readers have two more books to go in the series. What do you think so far? Will you stick with it?
Ronan finds out that all the extracurricular activities his mom signed him up for actually prepared him to fight the bad guys. What do you do after school? What do you think you'll be prepared to do with your special skills?