Review: Golden Scarab
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I give three stars to books I enjoyed while reading; two stars to books that are barely ok. This book deserves a 2.5 stars.
The Golden Scarab is an adventure story about a twelve-year-old boy named JJ who gets a chance to go back in time to ancient Egypt in order to restore peace to the spirit of a famous mummy in a modern museum. With the help of some friends, JJ travels around Egypt on his quest to help the good gods keep the powerful evil god Set from gaining power.
Let me get the bad stuff out of the way first. There was way too much “telling” going on for a middle-gade book. (It felt like the author started off sitting at the end of a child’s bed telling the story; there might have been lots of gestures and facial expressions to go with it. Only, the author forgot to add them in when committing the story to paper!) Next problem could be solved by the wielding red pen of a professional editor–abrupt tense changing and grammar issues (some tense change is good to show a change of setting, but I felt like there were changes where there shouldn’t be, so that it detracted from the story). My biggest complaint is that the main characters were flat–I didn’t feel like they were real, I didn’t get interested in their plight. I had a hard time remembering that one character was from Aswan–she talked normal Australian like the other two, saying things like “what’s he on about?”
There were good qualities, though. Most of the settings were vividly described– I could picture them without any trouble. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the side-character Sadiki–he added humor and was consistently and almost cartoonishly “off his rocker” (in a good way!). There were some good uses of the simile (pretty important in MG writing); the drawn comparisons often made me think, “Wow, yeah, I can see that,” or made me laugh.
All in all, readers who don’t notice grammar problems and who just want a good old adventure without any character attachment might find this book fits the bill for them.