The Faustian Host by Dave Becker (self-published, 2012). Review copy provided by author.
Fourteen-year-old Tony Marino's grandmother, who has taken care of him since his mother died when he was young, has just died; that's upsetting enough, but then a bizarre stranger in the cemetery makes some cryptic comments to Tony and a meteor destroys his grandmother's Florida home. Tony finds himself whisked away to Massachusetts by his new guardians, the Browns, and testing to get into the elite Kalos Academy, a special day school for extremely gifted students. Strange events follow Tony there, though, and many of his classmates regard him as cursed. Worse, he seems to be associated with a series of unexplained natural events similar to Biblical plagues that befall the area. Tony and his small group of friends set out to discover the source of the events, leading to hair-raising adventures including a cataclysmic showdown of epic proportions in Death Valley.
Middle grade readers will enjoy this wild combination of adventure, fantasy, and supernatural elements. There's also a bit of awkward romance as Tony crushes on the enchanting Katie, the dean's daughter. The theme of success via cooperation runs through the book, a lesson that Tony in particular needs to learn. Recommended for ages 10 & up.
I read a lot, especially kid and young adult lit. This blog will review what I've been reading. I get most of my reading material from the library, plus I buy books at school book fairs and the usual stores. I look for freebies on Amazon for my Kindle, and I'm happy to review any ARCs or e-galleys I can get my hands on.