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Readers Advisory: Joshua Dread: The Dominion Key by Lee Bacon

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Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $16.99 hardcover, ISBN-10 0385743823, May 2014

The summer is coming to an end and Joshua–along with his friends Sophie, Milton, and Miranda–are about to begin seventh grade. But when a trip to the mall turns into an attack by nFinity and a couple of Phineas Vex’s goons, it becomes clear that they’re no longer safe in Sheepsdale. To ensure their safety, Joshua and his friends must enroll in Alabaster Academy, a school for Gyfted kids. Located on an isolated island where there are only two types of weather (rainy and very rainy), Alabaster is filled with every kind of superpowered student you can imagine–not to mention a whole new species of bully. But when Alabaster comes under attack, Joshua and his friends are forced to escape once again. Their only hope for survival is to find a mysterious key that will enable complete world domination for whoever possesses it. But what if Phineas Vex finds the key first?
Joshua Dread is one of my favorite series for the 8-10 crowd, leveraging the group’s love of superheroes and goofy humor to send messages about following your talents, trusting your friends, and improvising in tight situations. This third installment doesn’t disappoint. Although the writing can be a tad cliche at times, Joshua’s continuing journey to heroism, Bacon’s imaginative use of superpowers and ability to play robots for laughs, and the irrepressible Milton continue to entertain. Writing a comic book storyline in a novel and making it work is tricky, but Bacon pulls it off beautifully. Also, while the male lead, humor, and subject matter make the series a shoe-in for boys, the female characters are as strong as the fellas, much smarter, and just as likely to save the day.
On a side note, the audio versions of this series are great. I listened to books one and two and might still listen to three when we get it even though I’ve read the print version already.
Recommend to: Humor fans, superhero fans
To buy or not to buy: Definite buy. Grab the first two if your collection doesn’t already have them.

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