Saturday, March 10, 2018

[Book Review] The King of Average by Gary Schwartz

The King of Average by Gary Schwartz is a story filled with adventure, a talking goat and other intriguing characters, and locations with very interesting names. This book was also packed with lessons about growing up and figuring out your purpose.

Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way. 

Let's dive in to my review!

The King of Average by Gary Schwartz 

James isn’t the world’s greatest kid, but he’s not the worst, either: he’s average! When he decides to become the most average kid who ever lived, James is transported to another world where he meets Mayor Culpa, a well-dressed talking Scapegoat who recruits him to become the new King of Average.

He’s joined on his quest by a professional Optimist and his grouchy companion, an equally professional Pessimist. Together, they set out on a journey of self-discovery that leads them all the way from the Sea of Doubt to Mount Impossible, the highest peak in the Unattainable Mountains. When James stumbles into a Shangri-la called Epiphany, he uncovers the secret of who he really is.

Follow James on his hilarious, adventure-packed journey to find self-worth in this heartfelt middle grade novel The King of Average by debut author Gary Schwartz.

My thoughts: 
I loved the plot of self-discovery. For a middle grade novel, this topic is certainly very important!

The characters were all so fun and different! For example, there was Mayor Culpa, a "scapegoat" that took the blame for everything. And there was Monsieur William Roget, the optimist, and Kiljoy, the pessimist, who were constantly trying to make the situation better or worse, depending. There were also the Nervous Nellies and the Ninnies, both tribes of very small people. How fun!

The overall location, the Realm of Possibility, was so interesting to me! I loved that the names of the regions were all titled in the same fashion. There was the Flatterlands, Eureka, Lake Superior, Epiphany, the Unattainables, and so on, each of which had it's own positive or negative connotation. Eureka was one of my favorites! I loved that in this region you could literally go into a mine and dig for what you were seeking.

Overall, the play on words was by far my favorite element! It was so much fun to learn about new people or locations. This book was certainly very well thought out, and it shows in the writing!

My favorite passages:
A real live goat! The neighborhood had its share of dogs and cats, but never any farm animals. Especially one in fancy clothes!

Somehow, in a flicker of an instant, everything had changed.

His shiny black mustache was well groomed and thin. It was tightly wound and waxed at the ends, so much so that it looked like checkmarks framing the man's long nose.

"Giddyap!" said James.
"What's 'giddyap'?" asked the mayor.
"It's how we tell animals to get a move on where I come from," explained James.
"Oh," said the mayor. "We just say 'let's go.'"
"Well, let's go, then," said James, urging the goat forward.

The butterflies in his stomach were zooming around like jet planes.

Did giving voice to you innermost desires make things happen? If so, he'd consider saying a lot more things.

"Wwrawwk! How should I know? I'm no fortune-teller!" said the bird. "I'm instinctual."
"You can say that again!" said Kiljoy, pinching his nose. "Phewww-wee!"

James watched him pull back into his shell like a stubborn turtle, refusing to hear another word n the subject.

James took a sip of juice and sighed. He just was. And, for the moment, that was enough.

My final thoughts:
Overall, I did enjoy this read. I really loved the names of the groups of characters as well as the locations. I appreciated all of the lessons and such, but unfortunately I think I was just too far outside of the target audience to really love this one. Of course, that being said, if I had picked this up when I was younger, I think I would have enjoyed it more.

If you're looking for a great book for a middle-grade reader, I would definitely recommend this one! I know it will definitely be one that I recommend from time to time when someone is looking for a book at this level!

Thanks for reading!
What was the last middle grade novel you picked up?


  1. I don't really read middle grade--the only MG books I've loved are Rick Riordan's.

    - Aimee @ Aimee, Always

    1. I haven't tried any of his work yet! I have three of his books sitting in my TBR pile though :)

  2. I never realized how similar mea and mayor sound until today...

    One of my favorite mg books from last year was The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi. :)