Author: Carter Roy
Publisher: Two Lions
Length: 279 pages
When thirteen-year-old Ronan Truelove's seemingly ordinary mom snatches him from school, then sets off on a high speed car chase, Ronan is shocked. His quiet, nerdy dad has been kidnapped? And the kidnappers are after him, too? His mom, he quickly learns, is anything but ordinary. In fact, she's a member of an ancient order of knights, the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect the Pure—thirty-six noble souls whose safety is crucial if the world as we know it is to survive. Now all those after-school activities—gymnastics, judo, survival training—she made him take, make sense. For suddenly Ronan is swept up in a sometimes funny, sometimes scary, but always thrilling adventure—dashing from one danger to the next, using his wits to escape the Bend Sinister, a posse of evil doers with strange powers. Falling in with two unlikely companions, Greta, a scrappy, strong-willed girl he's never much liked and Jack, a devil-may-care teenage pickpocket, Ronan is left with only his wits and his mom's last words of advice: Trust no one. That's a lot for an ordinary kid to deal with. But then again, maybe Ronan's not ordinary at all.
Protagonist: Ronan Truelove has had a rather tough life, after getting bullied when he was five his mother has enrolled him in a plethora of self-defense and fighting classes, as well as some seemingly miscellaneous other extra-curricular activities. When he was young his house was set on fire and while he didn't do it, there was no evidence leading to anyone else. Now his mom has yanked him from school and reveals, very vaguely I might add, her mysterious past and that he is in great danger. She send him off in hopes of protection, but of course he gets caught up in a whirlwind adventure. I really liked the character of Ronan, even though he's only thirteen, he's still very relateable. He's not a perfect character and that comes through very well, but his heart is always in the right place and he tries to do what he believes is good and right.
World-Building: The world-building of this book is very complex. First off I want to say that this book does use Christian lore for some of the background for the two warring factions. However, it is very minimal and is in no way preachy. In fact I really enjoyed learning about the Blood Guard and the Bend Sinister, however I would love to know more about their origins, why they started doing what they're doing. I'm guessing some of this will be revealed in the next book. While there are still many things about these two factions that remains in the dark the little we do get to know about them is the perfect set up to the rest of the series/trilogy.
Predictability: So on the whole I think there are probably two big twists in this book. One that I did not see coming at all, and one I accidentally spoiled myself on. Ironically the one I hadn't seen coming didn't really shock me that much, it didn't have the same punch as the other twist. I think this may have been do to the fact that it was more or less nonchalantly told to the protagonist instead of him figuring it out for himself, also there wasn't enough foreshadowing to make the twist worth it. On the other hand when I spoiled myself on arguably the books biggest spoiler, I was shocked beyond all belief, though I was far enough along in the book that things still started to click in place and it made sense. There are some smaller twists in here as well, but if you have even a remedial knowledge of MG/YA tropes than they shouldn't be all that hard to predict.
Ending: So the ending was really fantastic, there was everything someone like me could want out of it, great action, a shocking turn of events, secrets unveiled, and even some secrets still kept hidden. The ending was so crazy in fact I constantly kept forgetting that some of these characters, our protagonist especially, are just kids. Greta, Ronan, and another companion they meet along the way are all 13 and under, and yet they're doing some pretty unbelievable things and I don't mind how crazy and unreal it is because that's half the fun.
So I debated on this rating for a while, because even though there's really nothing wrong with this book, and I really enjoyed it, it still has that something to it that all books specifically aimed at a MG audience have that make it harder to appeal to an older audience. If I was twelve, than I probably would have given this book 5 stars.