Title: Peter Green and the Unliving Academy
Author: Angelina Allsop
Series: Peter Green and the Unliving Academy Series
Genre: Fantasy/ Middle School/ Friendship
Publisher: TCK Publishing
Peter Green is a scrawny young boy of 14, who just so happens to have his life cut short abruptly; throwing him into the land of the dead. How he got there, he has no clue. Without his memories and the strange surroundings of supernatural creatures that he could never have fathomed, he must navigate around his newfound Afterlife. There’s just a few more problems.
Thrust into literal- dead school life doesn’t mean life doesn’t go on. Neither does the peculiar feeling he has that something is not quite right.
Review * May contain a few spoilers*
Now granted I’m a grown woman in my twenties, I’m not exactly the target demographic for this novel. However having said that, it was a fun ride; following a fourteen year old boy around as he, does wildly dumb things but ultimately prevails.
The book opens with a weird conversation, he has with a Scottish bloke while taking in his new surroundings-the land of the dead. Funnily enough, paperwork and jobs are pretty much the same in this world too, which does make for some amusing remarks,
…but you run a higher risk of running into an unregistered poltergeist. There seems to be more of them these days, and with budget cuts…
Written in the third person from the perspective of Peter, we are just as new to this world as he is, so following him around does feel like somewhat of an adventure. The first impression of Peter the reader is given with is, really just a very lost kid. It’s only when he begins to settle down in his school life accepting that being dead is his future that he starts to value the friendships and the sense of home he gathers from the Battinsworth’s Academy.
There are various mini adventures he encounters along the way, from battling bloody creatures, teachers and various monsters to coming to a sense of self awareness. The fact that he lacks his memories, instils this feeling of failure in him, that possibly he hadn’t done anything that was worthy whilst he was alive. This pushes him to strive harder now more than ever, to prove to himself and others that, he’s more than just a gangly kid that can climb a few fences.
Did he want to be an accountant? No…The point was that he was becoming the type of person he wanted to be. He wanted to be strong, not like he was when he was alive.
The sense of coming of age, wakes in him as he figures out what he wants with the rest of his existence.
More so, there are some philosophical topics that are faintly brushed upon, as he discovers the place of Purgatory and what that means for people.
…the point is not to know…so that you can be whatever or whoever you want to be here…
The philosophical reasoning of Purgatory is explained in a way that it’s depicted, as a place for folks who do not wish to change, but it’s just as much of a place for people who need a little more time to change. I think it’s great that, the writer does cover such topics as much as it is interesting to watch Peter go on his magical adventures. It’s lovely that it is grounded in some maturity, that I hope we will see more of in any future installments.
If there is any criticism to make, I did find that at times it did feel like there were a few too many characters introduced almost at once. Mind you he grows to be a popular kid in school in a short span of time, however, I would have had a greater sense of attachment to some of these characters if they were a little more developed. As the story follows, Peter has growing affections for his gang of friends, yet, whilst reading, sometimes I would get lost in the dialogue wondering who was speaking as there is no particular definable quality about each of his friends. Not to mention it would have been great to see how his romance blossoms, because it all seems quite sudden.
Speaking of sudden there are also times, when I thought the pacing was a little distracting. There are times in the novel where it lingers a tad too long on him getting to his adventures, except, in order to depict time duration, the reader is just simply told that a season is passing by, which crushes a sense of anticipation towards the events.
Lastly, now granted I’m not a fourteen year old boy, but having siblings around that age, being referred to as a ‘kid’ can seem condescending, and ultimately makes you realise it’s being written by an adult, having said that if the audience is middle school kids, it might seem a little irksome. It’s also a little strange as an adult, sitting there and realising you’re following ‘the kids’ around. The plot doesn’t hold itself to a specific age range, but references such as above can make it seem like it does.
The book is a delighfully adventurous delve into a young boys life as he grows up dead. It’s a fun read for kids and adults, it’s not too dark or deep, but does ask important questions along the way, that’ll get you thinking.
*This book was provided to me via the publishers in exchange for a review on this blog. I do not receive any profits from this. All opinions are honest and my own.*