Monday, September 4, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, The Bravest Warrior in Nefaria by Adi Alsaid!

It's celebration time! Today and tomorrow, I get to party with two authors as they release their books into the world. Today's read caught my interest not only because of the bright colors on the cover, but the marketing peeps claim it's a mix between Phineas and Ferb and Despicable Me. Since I'm a fan of both and my kids are as well, this might be a winner in our household. 

by Adi Alsaid
Middle Grade Fantasy
304 pages
ages 8 to 12

Phineas and Ferb meets the Despicable Me series in this hilarious and heartwarming middle grade debut from acclaimed author Adi Alsaid about a wannabe hero who lives in a goofily evil kingdom where nefarious schemes abound.

Welcome to Nefaria, where nearly every day the kingdom faces another evil scheme.

Most are harmless, though, so the citizens of Nefaria simply learn to live with the latest hijinks and go on with their lives. This includes Bobert Bougainvillea, who is much more concerned with the fact that he seems to be invisible. From the teachers in his school to his classmates, almost no one notices Bobert, no matter how visible he tries to be. Then everything changes when Bobert follows his classmates to a cursed gumball machine.

Before he knows it, Bobert is sucked into one of Nefaria’s most villainous evil schemes, a plot that has been a long time in the making—too long, in the evil wizard Matt’s opinion. And retreating into invisibility this time won’t do, not when Bobert is the only one with the drive, knowledge, and—if his newfound courage doesn’t fail him—bravery to foil Matt’s plan.

GOODREADS    /     BOOKSHOP    /    B&N    /     AMAZON


Whimsical imagination meets tension and action in this fun read, which promises evil schemes, awkward invisibility, and going beyond comfort zones.

Nefaria is an odd kingdom with flying goats, singing spiders, and daily emergencies surrounding quicksand. All of this is thanks to some citizens' desires to bend the world to their evil schemes...which never turn out to be as evil as planned. Like everyone else, Bobert isn't really phased by any of it. He has his own problems and just wishes he could find some friends, but it seems like he's invisible. Literally. Until he's not. When he finally finds friends, fate plans against him and has him disappearing into a gumball machine. Another villain has an evil scheme, but this time, that villain might succeed.

While the Phineas and Ferb promise wasn't really on mark, I did get Despicable Me vibes while caught up in this tale. The villain, Matt, has a round-about-way of being evil, but then, even Bobert and his friends tend to misstep here and there. There's a bumbling and oddness which is simply endearing and keeps the tale light and humorous despite some tenser action and high-ish stakes. 

Bobert is an enjoyable character. He doesn't feel comfortable in his own skin and has no connection to anyone except for his parents. It's not clear why he's invisible (or if he truly is, at times), but it makes him easy to sympathize with, especially since he does try his best to make friends...or at least, be noticed. The characters around him have enough depth to make them interesting without heading in too deep to give way to boredom. It's a light, fast-paced, and imaginative read the entire way through.

There are some messages about not fitting in, making friendships, and learning to like ones well as a look at what it means to be a hero or villain. But all of this flows seamlessly into the plot and lets the action maintain control. I did find myself reading this in one sitting and enjoying it quite a bit. There are several scene jumps, which leave some of the action to be assumed...something I've never run across before and am not sure what I think of it. But it works well enough not to leave any hiccups and does push the story along. The resolution came across a little hollow, but still wrapped up the tale quick and on a good note with lots of warmth.

It's a fun read from start to finish and will have readers smiling as they hope Bobert finds a way to save the day.

And here he is...

Born and raised in Mexico City, Adi Alsaid is the author of several young adult novels including Let’s Get LostWe Didn’t Ask for This, and North of Happy, a Kirkus Best Book nominee. He also wrote the middle grade book The Bravest Warrior in Nefaria and edited Come on In: 15 stories about Immigration and Finding Home. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife and two cats, where he occasionally spills hot sauce on things (and cats).

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