Review Detail

"Chocolate and podcasts and cool carabiners..."
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Albiorix and his crew are having a great time being back in Bríandalör, successfully completing a lot of quests, but when June Westray's phone shows up in a pawn shop, he is really worried. Upon investigation, he finds that there is a bard from another party, Tristan Trouvere, who is selling vast quantities of items from Suburbia. He's charming, has great hair... and Albiorix doesn't trust him at all. Finding that the bard has bought all of the copies of the Hallmaster's Guide to Freshman Year of Futility makes him worry more, and it is only because the owner of the hobby games store, Grull, gives him his own personal copy that the group is able to travel to Pine Hill High School. Soon, Thromdurr, Devis,Vela, and Sorrowshade are back and assuming their old roles, although they soon find that high school is completely different from middle school. Tristan must be stopped from his looting of Suburbia, and the best way to do that is to win the scenario and make it end. To do this, Albiorix and his friends need to win a competition, get elected Homecoming king or queen, and get a perfect score on standarized testing. There are also other quests that might help, like hosting a party with 100 people in attendance, but these rarely turn out well. Thromdurr manages to have some success as a mathlete, and with the help of former nemesis Nicole,manage to give Albiorix a popularity makeover and get him elected. When he doesn't get a perfect score on his test, however, Albiorix knows that he is facing a bigger challenge than just Tristan. Will the group be able to complete their mission and take down Tristan?
Good Points
From an illustration at the very beginning that lists a characters skills as including knowledge of British sketch comedies, to the lyrics of their song in the battle of the bands competition ("Chocolate and podcasts and cool carabiners, antibiotics and backyard bird feeders"), Heroes Level Up is every bit a worthy snerk fest sequel to Homeroom and Hall Passes. The writing is unbelievably clever and quotable. I loved the reason they had to go back into the game, the details of how to win the game, and their opponents from both Bríandalör and Suburbia. There were twists and turns and deliciously quotable lines like Thromdurr's "Water is for the weak. If I grow thirsty, I shall slurp the blood of my enemies!" which I need made into a Cross Country t shirt! I want to be best friends with Sorrowshade, the gloom elf, who says "The thought of being on a team of any sort makes me want to crawl out of my skin and then turn around and throw up into the empty skin I just vacated." I worry about June and Morton's relationship, and how Albiorix will handle it. Most of all, I desperately want to read the group's adventures in The Sophomore Year of Self-Consciousness and Sorrow.

The first book, Homerooms and Hall Passes (which was shortlisted for the 2019 middle grade speculative fiction Cybils award), has been hugely popular with my students who play D&D or who love medieval fantasy books. There is also some talk about a movie being made, so this is a title to have on your radar!
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