Monday, June 13, 2022

MMGM- Escape and Blather

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Alexander, K.R. Escape 
June 7th 2022 by Scholastic Inc.
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Cody is obsessed with theme parks and virtual reality, so when there is a lottery for the new VR theme park, ESCAPE, he checks his phone constantly to see if his entry was accepted. His friends Laura and Patrick share his interests, but don't care as much about the park. Most of the teens who have been picked are famous social media influencers, but there are a few spaces left for ordinary kids. Cody really, really needs to get away from home and school. His parents aren't abusive, but they are very strict and never let him have any fun, and they also fight a lot. When he gets an e mail on his phone during school, he knows that it is from ESCAPE, but his teacher, who is actually pretty cool most of the time, not only takes away his phone but calls his parents! Cody is grounded, but manages to sneak a look at his phone and finds out that a driver will pick him up at 8:00 the next morning to take him to the park for a week. He packs, sneaks out, and is soon on his adventure. He meets the park's creator, the creepy Mr. Gould, and befriends two famous kids, Inga (on whom he has a little crush) and Jayson. They are very nice to him, and the three become a tight unit when it comes to striking out into the park. Everything is included, so all of the food and rides are free, and no adults are allowed. Jayson and Inga have their own reasons for wanting to escape, and the park seems to pick up on all of the kids' worst fears. Cody starts to suspect things are really wrong when the group visits the Egypt section, and he gets an actual scorpion bite, even through the special suit that the kids have to wear. There are several other thrilling rides, but each seems more dangerous than the last. Add in a competition with the evil Meg-A, and Cody and his friends start to fear for their lives. Will they have to escape ESCAPE?
Strengths: Horror is NOT my favorite genre, but my students love to read it, and we have a lot of conversations about the sort of books that interest them. While I'm not going to provide them with as much gory, human-on-human violence as they would like (still not convinced this is something that is good for eleven-year-olds!), I'm always looking for things that are scary. They also are ridiculously fond of video game books like Tor's Minecraft series, and Escape has a lot of moments that have the feel of video games. The inclusions of a variety of young social media influencers is fantastic, and something I haven't seen a whole lot of, even though many of my students are sure that that's what they will do when they grow up. (After 16 years and a mere 326 blog followers, I'm not going to bet my retirement on this course of action!) I appreciate that Alexander doesn't skimp on the plot or the character development, although the thrill ride of the theme park definitely is center stage. The best part of the story was the uncertainty of what was really going on with the theme park; we have an inkling, thanks to the Scooby-Doo-ish villain Mr. Gould who is practically muttering "You meddling kids!". 
Weaknesses: The ending seemed a bit rushed and forced, but readers are going to pick this up for the National Treasure type action scenes, not the plot development.
What I really think: The creepy cover alone makes this worth buying three copies, but it's a shame that Scholastic won't publish this author in hard cover. If The Collector has sold half a million copies, surely there is a little money to be had in this format. Alexander is absolutely on fire right now, with three new releases coming up, including Darkroom (10/22), Speak for Me (11/22) and Possess Me (12/22)!

Blather: Had to do Real Life over the weekend, going to a friend's wedding, and helping my daughter move on Sunday. My wrist is doing well, but I'm still taking it VERY easy. 

About five of my friends are deep into Cleaning Out Parents' Houses, which is NOT fun! I've been turning a critical eye to my own home and Stuff. As my friend Michael told me this weekend, "LIFE is fatal". I don't collect much, but do have a lot of vintage Pyrex, as well as way too many clothes. The Pyrex is worth a bit these days, and I wear everything I have, so I'm concentrating on cleaning out junk drawers and things that my daughter will never want!

Three book goals this summer: Read a bit, do more challenges, and host a 48 Hour Book Challenge (ala the 2006-2016 MotherReader one) the weekend of July 15-18. I need to work on details, which will be ready (you heard it here!) July 1.

One blog you should really check out is Middle Grade Carousel! I'm going to try their Middle Grade Bingo for June, and they have fun cover challenges and book lists on Twitter at @kindeladies, too. 

Hope everyone is making progress on whatever needs it!


  1. I actually like horror, and I've been both surprised and pleased by recent middle grade reads in horror (eg Ghost Girl which I loved but found quite creepy) so I must check out this author. I love that bingo game for June and sorry it's too late for me to join in but I will check out their blog - it looks such fun! Glad to hear your wrist is doing well. Looking forward to your 48 hour book challenge!!

  2. I'm not a horror person myself, but I know so many people are, so it's great that you're tracking down books like Escape that your students will enjoy! (Also, I laughed about your comment on influencing—it definitely doesn't work out for everyone, myself included!)

    Also, it sounds like you've been busy lately, and I hope things are a little calmer this week for you. And I will keep an eye out for the 48 Hour Book Challenge info—I may not have the fortitude to join in, but I definitely want to see the details at least! Thanks so much for the wonderful post, Karen!

  3. I am not a fan of horror, but I know many tweens like it. Escape does sound like an engaging and thrilling read. Will check out your 48 hour book challenge -- and see if I have time to get involved. A lot packed into this post!

  4. Kids really do gravitate toward this type of story, but as others have said it is also not my cup of tea. I just like that kids are reading. Looking forward to hearing more about your 48 hour book challenge. I did this once and it was intense but fun.

  5. I don't read anything scary anymore. I used to, but in my dotage, I just can't handle it. But the kiddos love it, and if they're reading, that's what matters. Good luck with your clearing out. I need to do more of that. My poor kids are going to have a mess to deal with.