Middle-grade Gems, as Told by My Fifth Grader

My ten year old is an advanced reader who loves books. He can read anything, ability-wise (although Shakespeare might take a while), but he does have specific tastes. I thought it would be fun to write a blog post, talking specifically about his current favorites.

Randoms by David Liss

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Zeke Reynolds comes from a long line of proud science fiction geeks. He knows his games, comics, movies, and TV shows like Captain Kirk knows the starship Enterprise. So it’s a dream come true when he learns the science fiction he loves so much is based on reality—and that he’s been selected to spend a year on a massive space station. To evaluate humanity’s worthiness, the Confederation of United Planets has hand picked three of Earth’s most talented young people—and then there’s Zeke. He’s the random.

Unfortunately, Zeke finds life in space more challenging than he’d hoped. When he saves his transport ship from a treacherous enemy attack, he’s labeled a war criminal. Now despised by the Confederation, rejected by his fellow humans, and pursued by a ruthless enemy, Zeke befriends the alien randoms: rejected by their own species, but loyal to each other. But their presence in the Confederation may not be so random after all, and as the danger increases, Zack’s knowledge of science fiction might be the only thing that can save himself, his friends, and Earth itself. (Taken from Amazon)

His opinion: “It’s a good sci-fi for readers my age, and slightly older. It’s good for geeky nerds out there because it’s got a lot of funny references to sci-fi. There’s even some Serenity in there [I’m a huge Firefly fan]. Overall, it’s a really good book with great characters. Although it’s a more serious sci-fi, it has a lot of fun points and the characters are easy to relate to. The main character doesn’t really have that much going for him. I like how down-to-earth it is, even though it’s in space. ”

Gamer Army by Trent Reedy

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After Rogan Webber levels up yet again on his favorite video game, Laser Viper, the world-famous creator of the game invites him to join the five best players in the country for an exclusive tournament. The gamers are flown to the tech mogul’s headquarters, where they stay in luxury dorms and test out cutting edge virtual-reality gaming equipment, doing digital battle as powerful fighting robots. It’s the ultimate gaming experience. (taken from Amazon)

His opinion: “Best points: First of all, I liked the fact that it was a different setting that most sci-fi books that I’ve read. Everyone is living in virtual reality.
Secondly, I like how the characters evolved throughout the book, especially the main character.
Third, the action scenes were really cool and exhilarating.
Overall, Gamer Army is a fast-paced combo for both video game fans and action fans.”

Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan

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They have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaksand shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied. . . (taken from Amazon)

His opinion: “I thought that the first Ranger’s Apprentice book wasn’t going to be that good when I saw how old it was, but once I read the book, I really liked it. The characters are nicely done and the action’s good. I like how accurate it is to medieval times while still having its own fantasy style. My favorite character is Will. He’s a great archer, and he’s fun and mischievous, and I like that. I like that they keep introducing new villains.”
Honorable Mentions:

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The Unwanteds series by Lisa McMann

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The Zodiac Legacy series by Stan Lee, Stuart Moore, and Andie Tong

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The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage

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The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

These are my fifth grader’s current favorites. I’m curious how this will change over the course of the year. I might have to interview him again in around six months.

Do you have young readers? Have they read any of these? What are their favorites?

4 thoughts on “Middle-grade Gems, as Told by My Fifth Grader

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