Tom Parking dreamed of being whisked away to a fantasy realm, but his real life just wasn’t crappy enough.
Tenth-grader Tom’s mom is a great mom. His dad’s absent but not a monster. Tom has a few friends, and he loves drama club. There’s even the possibility of a girlfriend….It’s not a stellar life, but he’s no abused orphan living under the staircase; no other realm would name him Chosen One. Until one does. Just Tom’s luck: It’s a ragged, rubbishy, nameless kingdom (they won’t commit to a name and “mumble unintelligibly” when they talk of their land) that’s accessed through a charity bin in a Kmart parking lot. Nggghthththhh’s king loathes Tom and sends him to work in the Rat-Snottery (don’t ask). Just after Tom tells the Nggghthththhhians no thanks for the Chosen One gig, his best friend Kyle starts acting weird. Suddenly, there’s a new prophecy: Kyle’s the Chosen One! The king loves him, and Kyle can do magic! Then Tom finds out his body wasn’t idle while he was in Nggghthththhh, and he has trouble in two worlds. Twice as trippy and equally as much fun as his first (The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had to, 2010, for adults), Pierson’s sophomore effort is a post-Potter, self-aware, ironic, sarcastic fantasy. Some action scenes get boggy with exuberant descriptions, but the abundant laughs make up for it.
Adults might wonder what Pierson’s smoking; teens will just enjoy the ride. (Fantasy. 12 & up)