A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Stories of real people entombed throughout history like the Egyptian Imhotep; Atahuallpa, the last Inca Emperor; and the Mongolian conqueror, Ghengis Khan. The main character borrows a strategy from ancient Chinese General Zhao Yung to confuse enemies when you're guarding an empty fort. How to make gunpowder, including how and where to harvest Saltpeter (if you have the stomach for it). How to make dinosaur jerky (and probably other meat jerky as well). Lots of other curious historical facts, like how the origin of the name Bluetooth came from a Viking and how some Europeans ate mummies, thinking that was healthy for some reason.
Freedom and control over your own destiny is the ultimate goal. Teamwork is less of a focus in this book in favor of self-sacrifice for the greater good.
Positive Role Models
Cade continues to be the brave leader in this story and it's clear he's willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save everyone. He stays the course, even if his friends don't understand and even resent his authority. Characters are diverse: Cade is half-Indian, his friends are Black and Asian.
Violence & Scariness
Battles and skirmishes with many deaths, but mostly the aliens where blood is described as ichor. The aliens are killed with swords, rocks, a grenade, cannon fire, flying shrapnel, a bomb, and guns, including a machine gun. Some human villains killed by gunfire, hungry dinosaurs, and swords with some gore described, including a head rolling down the stairs. A main character is whipped for information and others are hunted by enslavers.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some scenes of kissing and snuggling together.
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Some uses of "s--t," "hell," "ass," and versions of "damn."
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Products & Purchases
Reference to Call of Duty.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Champion is the third and last book in a sci-fi survival series by Taran Matharu, author of the Summoner series. Teens stranded on an alien planet fight for their lives again. Battles and skirmishes result in many deaths, but mostly aliens die -- ones the human teens have little knowledge or connection with. The aliens are killed with swords, rocks, a grenade, cannon fire, flying shrapnel, a bomb, and guns, including a machine gun. Some human villains are killed by gunfire, hungry dinosaurs, and swords with some gore described, including a head rolling down the stairs. A main character is whipped for information and others are hunted by slavers. There's some kissing and cuddling and a bit of swearing – not often, and not beyond "s--t." There are always lots of curious historical tidbits to glean from this series since the aliens in control borrow historical artifacts and figures from Earth. Among other things, readers will learn how to harvest Saltpeter for gunpowder (not that they'd ever want to). The main character, Cade, continues to be a strong leader, even when his friends turn on him. He's willing to sacrifice himself to free everyone else.
Is It Any Good?
The battles and aliens keep coming in this finale that will certainly satisfy action-adventure fans, but maybe not the sci-fi fans looking for a deeper connection to the story and characters. The very best part of The Champion is the twist that comes after their first big alien battle. Cade is thrown into a trajectory he didn't expect and has serious intell can't share with anyone -- the Codex will always be listening. Cade is forced to go it alone and make decisions his friends don't like, and he can never explain why.
Of course, Cade doesn't need to go it alone for every task in The Champion. Some of his friends could have helped with his chemistry experiments.They could have also dealt with the Romans, anything. Author Taran Matharu makes most of Cade's friends throw-away characters by Book 3. Even Cade's girlfriend Amber has little to do beyond kissing Cade or pouting in a corner. It doesn't feel fair considering how far they've all come together. The big sci-fi fan reader is also cheated near the end when so much more is revealed about Abaddon. The descriptions go by so fast to serve an actiony ending. It was worth slowing down there and really showing all the alien overlords' fascinating secrets. All that said, the ending does thrill and readers will be wondering until the very last how Cade can possibly survive his final big contest.
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.