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From Ordinary to Extraordinary
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What Worked: Arnie Schmidt got a job in the mail room of his uncle’s accounting firm. The author takes time delving into his ordinary life before he is gifted a set of three pens at a garage sale. He is trying to find his footing in a world where his self-confidence has taken a beating after years of being bullied in high school by a popular football player named Erik. He is extremely talented with math but decided not to pursue college. His parents are nice but don’t understand him well enough that he feels supported. He is established as a very average normal teenager with few things setting him as special. This was effective in establishing his personality before the pens arrive in his possession, but is a bit slow to read.
Things take a mysterious turn once he has the pens. He writes his feelings in a journal and slowly things get better for him. He has the misfortune of working with Erik. It is interesting that the author set him on the path of his high school bully as someone who he must rely on to navigate the powers of the green pen, especially as it seems that he’s being followed and may be in danger from outside forces. I am not sure why the author didn’t already have a friend Arnie could rely on during his plight to uncover the pens’ powers but maybe she is setting Erik up as having a troubled home life or some other reason that he bolstered his image at Arnie’s expense in the past. Hopefully, Erik will be a redeemable character as the series progresses.
Arnie pines over the attractive intern in accounting, Aurora. When the pen helps her notice him, he almost misses the ready-made girlfriend of Kayley. Kayley knows a bit about the pens because her grandfather had them before Arnie. She also keeps meeting Arnie to help him figure out the strange protective powers the green pen possesses even though she was a stranger to Arnie prior to her father gifting them to him at their family garage sale. Kayley seems to like him and Arnie somehow misses all clues to her attraction but does seem to realize that Aurora is not really worth pursuing as a love interest, much to her anger.
There is suspense in the book as his uncle appears to be dealing with a shady figure to secure the pens. Then the suspenseful reason is revealed and Arnie, Erik, and Kayley end up joining a secret society to protect the magic of the three pens. This book briefly mentioned that he was given three pens, but only the green pen is explored in this book. I think in future books we will learn about the other pens and how he will learn to balance the magic of all three. There are still questions left to explore on the origin of the pens’ magic and the society set up to protect them.

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