A Mom Monday Review:
Author: Adam Rocke, Mark Rogers, Cody B. Stewart
Publication Date: 5 October, 2016
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Age Recommendation: 11 and up
Rating: 4 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~
When eleven-year-old TJ finds a weird looking egg in the Florida Everglades after a tropical storm rips through, naturally he takes it home for identification. It could be the egg of a mutant duck or something, which would be awesome. Problem is, the egg doesn’t look like it came from a mallard, even a mutated one—it’s too big and heavy and…strange. So he hides it away in his closet and continues on with his life as usual, doing his best to ignore the creepy men constantly banging at his front door and the significant rise in military helicopter sightings in his typically quiet neighbourhood.
Then one day he comes home from school and it’s as though a hand grenade has gone off inside his bedroom. Suddenly, TJ knows he’s dealing with something a little more interesting—and a little more deadly—than a duck.
I throughly enjoyed this story about a young boy learning to find his way in the world, learning that he has friends and family he can count on, people that will stand by him no matter what even when he's feeling alone and that true friendship comes in all shapes and sizes.
As an adult I loved that this story brought me back to my youth. It feels like some of my favorite 1980's movies mixed together into a new and updated action packed adventure. Think Goonies, E.T., Stand By Me, and Jurassic Park (which is a 90's movie I know, but close enough.) all wrapped up into a book that will have you flipping pages faster than a genetically modified T-Rex can run. I just devoured this book and had a blast doing it. Rex, is fun, witty, and action packed but it is also filled with heartfelt moments of love and friendship. T.J.'s relationship with his mother is strained due to their circumstances (her having to work two jobs to just keep them afloat) but you never doubt the love these two have for one another and when they hurt you hurt with them because it isn't hard to comprehend what they are going through and how words can be said that aren't truly meant but that they don't take away the feelings that you have for one another. I also adored the relationship between T.J. and Sam. What a great pair these two made....I think of them like I do the couple from UP and I want them to grow up together continuing their adventures and even if they never 'fall in love' (ewwww, I know) they will always be there supporting each other through an amazing bond. It's the kind of friendship that every person craves, one based on love and admiration.
I also loved that this book is told from multiple points of view and that while it is a middle grade read it is completely relevant to adults as well as kids. It has all the aspects to keep a reader of any age connected and engrossed in the story.
Now one big reason that this wasn't a 5 star read for me is because I am a cranky old adult and there were a few instances where I cringed thinking about my 10 almost 11 year old reading this book, a book that I think she would LOVE but I am a tad afraid to let her read because it is going to bring up some questions that at her age haven't yet been addressed. Those are the talk about kicking a bully in "a particularly vulnerable area." and also the conversation about a Herpetologist and herpes...now I don't know how most of the world is right now as far as public schools and what children do and don't know at this age since I homeschool but being that my poor husband lives in a house full of girls there isn't yet a lot of discussion about male anatomy and we have definitely not gotten to the subject of herpes. It's not a huge thing, but it is something that would have my daughter coming to me wondering why they are saying what they are saying or worse not coming to me and asking me questions at all. So, on that note I would suggest you as a parent taking a moment to decide if you are ready for those questions before letting your youngest middle grade readers read Rex. I hate that I have these doubts about those moments in the book because other wise I am completely enthralled with Rex and I think that most children will be too. This is a minor issue in the scheme of things but at the same time a big enough one that I think you as mom and dad should be aware of.
Other than those little things I truly loved this book and I think middle grade readers are going to fall hard for it to. There is just something so endearing about T.J. Sam, Ellen, Brock, and especially Rex. You'll want to head back to Greenmarsh, FL over and over again. In fact I would love to see T.J. and Sam finding themselves in adventure after adventure. It could be like the book version of the Amazon show Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street which would be like one of the best things ever! There is just so much to this story that I can't wait until I can share with my daughter, who is a huge dinosaur fan. The story is fast paced, the action and adventure totally kick butt and the characters so well developed and thought out....even the 'bad guys' will have wanting more of them.
Like I mentioned above this book is a great read for almost any reader out there. It will hook children and adults alike. Middle Grade readers will be fascinated with the story and the action while adults will fall in love with the interactions between the characters. I hope that even with my small reservations mentioned above you'll pick up Rex and give it a go, you won't be disappointed.
~HAPPY READING ~
About the Authors
Cody B. Stewart was born in the Adirondacks, in Upstate New York. His love of stories began in those mountains as he vanquished trolls, fought in the American Revolution and discovered his latent mutant powers. Stories have continued to consume his life, but he now plucks them out of his head and puts them down on paper in the form of novels and comic books. He left the Adirondacks to grow into a man, did so, and has since returned with a wonderfully supportive wife and two sons.
Adam Rocke never met an adventure he didn’t love. From swimming with great white sharks without a cage, to jumping out of a plane without a parachute, Adam’s adrenaline junkie tendencies play a major role in his writing. Throw in a secondary degree in CryptoZoology and it’s anyone’s guess where Adam’s literary travels will take him.
Mark’s career as a travel journalist has brought him to 56 countries and counting. These trips have fed his imagination while at the same time provided authentic experiences and sensory detail that find their way into his novels and screenplays. Mark’s won multiple awards for his travel writing, including an award for his Hurricane Ivan coverage in Jamaica. His work regularly appears in USA Today and other media outlets. Mark lives in Baja California with his Sinaloa-born wife, Sophy, where they recently built a rock house overlooking the sea.