A Problematic Paradox - Eliot Sappingfie...
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley free for review consideration. It does not affect my review.
A Problematic Paradox was a fantastic read, when it wasn’t making me irritated. So mostly, yeah, it was awesome. However, there were a few key points where what I thought was funny and what the author thought was funny diverged so much that it left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. And, unfortunately, it only takes a couple of those occurring before your whole experience of the book was tainted.
For example, I found it a little difficult to stomach – given the current plethora of school shootings happening in the United States – a teacher suggesting a child take an AR-15 for self-defense. Even if it was bubble-gum pink and came with non-lethal ammunition. Obviously there’s a huge divide in America right now on how we should handle the situation, and a book review is not the place to go into it. So, I’ll simply state that in my opinion this was in extremely poor taste.(I would add a trigger warning here if you are getting this for a child who has been affected by school shootings. The gun never makes another appearance, but the one is enough to possibly upset them.)
Another thing that bothered me (though not nearly as bad as the above) is that this was a little bit too Harry Potter influenced in key areas. I would have preferred to see Nikola with another ability that wasn’t super similar to Harry’s. Maybe you can put it down to just being an ear-mark of an extremely stubborn, strong-minded person, but… And the headmaster is an obvious nod and/or dig at Dumbledore, except not nearly as likable. So, yeah, a bit much going on there.
One other thing I'd like to address - not a criticism, merely an observation - is that there are many times in the novel when the humor feels a bit advanced for the intended age range. Like the gambling debt reference. It made me snicker, but how many kids in the appropriate age range would get that?
Moving on, though, in most other aspects, A Problematic Paradox was a great read. There were lots of lines I snickered at. I liked Nikola and Hypatia. (I thought I was going to dislike Hypatia in the beginning. Was happy she grew on me.) Some of the other characters were entertaining as well. The set-up of fighting against the “Old Ones” was nice. The school itself was awesome. I loved how everything was spread out, the locations, the scheduling, etc. It sounds like a great geek school that most of us would love to attend if it actually existed.
The pacing of A Problematic Paradox was perfect! This was a book that hit the ground running and didn’t stop until it had reached the finish line. There’s also just the right amount of action, and at least a few scenes that were surprisingly creepy!
Even with my problems with A Problematic Paradox, I can acknowledge that Eliot Sappingfield’s debut novel will delight many readers. I will not be reading any further into the series, but I can see it becoming a huge hit. I would suggest, however, pre-reading it to decide if its appropriate for your kiddo.