Parents' Guide to

Waking the Monsters: Hilo Book 4

By Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Gina steps up in fun-filled, action-packed volume.

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Absurd, hilarious, exciting, and enigmatic, this fourth installment builds momentum in the Hilo series. The family and friend dynamics between the characters continue to evolve in each book, giving a deeper meaning to what would otherwise be a silly excursion into fantastical intergalactic warfare. In Waking the Monsters, Gina has to stand firm in her conviction that she doesn't want to be a cheerleader simply because it's expected of her, just like best friend D.J. has had to forge his own identity over the course of the past three books in the series. Hilo and Izzy have a certain depth to them as well, even though they are mostly ridiculous, humorous characters.

Even the main plot has some serious overtones, offering a critique of the dangers of human uses of machines for nefarious purposes, especially for waging war. The military is tracking Hilo and his robot foes, attempting to harness their powers for their own benefit, and the story behind Razorwark's turn toward evil shows how fear and greed can shape technological development. These heavier themes may not register with young readers who enjoy these books for the burp jokes and robot butt-kicking, but they nonetheless help ground the story in something real and profound. More of the mysterious backstories of Hilo and Razorwark are revealed, and the dark outlines of a tragic story begin to emerge -- but readers will have to keep following the series to find out the full tale of these otherworldly adventurers, since the book ends on yet another cliffhanger!

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