I have received a copy of this audiobook from Aurora Publicity in exchange of a free and honest review. I love audiobooks and jumped at this opportunity as I usually do not get to choose between an ebook and audiobook copy.
“The King of Average” is a middle grade fantasy adventure novel about an eleven year-old boy named James, who is so ordinary and average, that one day he decides to become the most average person ever. The moment he makes his decision, he is transported into a fantasy world, the Realm of Possibilities, where he makes friends and faces challenges on his road to become the King of Average.
I adored this book! It is incredibly well written and gripping for a debut novel. More so, it works perfectly well as an audiobook, as it is performed by Gary Schwartz himself, who is an actor, a voice artist and an impov coach. Mr. Schwartz created a variety of characters with very distinct voices – literarily and figuratively speaking – and the wordplay that he uses for the creation of his imaginary word is simply superb. I often couldn’t help laughing at the telling names of the places, like Eureka and Epiphany, or characters, like the professional pessimist Killjoy or the real scapegoat Mayor Culpa. I think it would prove to be quite educational for kids in terms of abstract concepts and wordplay.
It’s been awhile since I was this taken by a middle grade novel, as I often find them to be too simplistic and talking down to children. This is, fortunately, not the case with “The King of Average”.
James faces some serious problems in his life. He is neglected by his mother, who seems not to care for his existence at all and inadvertently blames him for his father abandoning them. James longs to be important, to matter, he wants family love and friends, and he finds all of those in the Realm of Possibilities. As true to adventure stories, he also discovers things about himself and is given a glimpse into the reasons behind his mother’s antagonism.
I believe that any reader will be able to find a character they can relate to in this book. I liked many characters in this book but I think that Monsieur Roget is probably my favourite. (While listening to the audiobook, I kept envisioning him as a more friendly version of Suchet’s Poirot, which made me smile a lot.) This audiobook brought up the long forgotten feeling of a childhood story well-told – something that I often find missing in contemporary middle grade fiction. Loveable characters and curious adventures – what more can you ask for! I think that the fact that Gary is a professional voice actor, undoubtedly, adds to the story. His narration is so perfect, I kept forgetting that I was listening to one person doing all of those voices.
I did, however, had a bit of an issue with the tiny small thing at the end. Can’t really explain it explicitly without giving away the ending, but I felt that it should have been given more attention. Also the ending made me scream internally for the sequel. Because I want to know what will happen after the last chapter! But as far as I am aware, this is a standalone novel.
I can’t praise this book enough. It is a sweet and witty middle grade novel, that both kids and adults (hey, I am an adult!) would love, and I highly recommend you pick the audiobook version. Those six hours flew by very quickly.
I hope that Mr. Schwartz would write and voice more books, as I am already hooked.
Overall rating: 4.5 stars
Plot: 4 stars
Performance: 5 stars