Review of The Merchant of Death by D J MacHale

Merchant of Death
Merchant of Death

I kept on seeing vast quantities of this series everywhere I look at the library and bookstores. Naturally I got curious and got the first book out. (Which was extremely hard to find, as usual.) (why is it that the first book in the series is always the hardest to find??!)

Bobby Pendragon is a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy. He has a family, a home, and even Marley, his beloved dog. But there is something very special about Bobby.
He is going to save the world. And not just Earth as we know it. Bobby is slowly starting to realize that life in the cosmos isn’t quite what he thought it was. And before he can object, he is swept off to an alternate dimension known as Denduron, a territory inhabited by strange beings, ruled by a magical tyrant, and plagued by dangerous revolution. If Bobby wants to see his family again, he’s going to have to accept his role as savior, and accept it wholeheartedly. Because, as he is about to discover, Denduron is only the beginning…. (Taken from Chapters Indigo website)

I can most definitely see how this book caters to boys. It’s practically filled with action from cover to cover, and Bobby as the main narrator does a good job to keep you interested. I still have to say, I find him hard to like. He’s a bit arrogant and cocky, and at times stupidity seems to come into his head and he makes the wrong decisions when the right ones are necessary (and life saving). However I can’t help but also be caught up in the story. I suppose the way he narrates it was good and engaging enough to keep my attention.

I do like the concept and the idea of this book. It was interesting and very different from what I’m used to reading. The concept actually reminds me of the television show Sliders (of course with obvious differences) which is one of the main reasons why I thought this book was good. Some chapters also take place on “Second Earth” (supposedly where we live) and features Courtney (Bobby’s girlfriend) and Mark (Bobby’s nerdy but very reliable friend). They’re two typical sidekicks to the story but it adds more substance to the plot and goes to show you how the fantasy element works in the book. It’s also a nice secondary storyline and gives you an insight on what happens when Bobby is away from home. Life goes on on Second Earth but I’m sure questions will be raised when Bobby and his family have extended their absence for a very long time.

Although I like the action in the book, there just seems to be something missing. I liked it but felt that I did not enjoy it as much. Although the characters are well thought out they just did not have any “feel” to them and were like wooden puppets. Except for Bobby (obviously, as he’s the main character). It would help if there’s more substance and depth to the supporting cast as well.

I’d say give this book a go if you want an action packed read without anything too complex. The worlds are well written, the fantasy element is different, and I’m going to be picking up the second one for sure. There’s lots of unanswered questions (like the whereabouts of Bobby’s parents) that I want to know the answers to.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

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