Eleven-year-old Albert Flynn is faced with a summer sorting mail in the dead-letter office, but a mysterious delivery promises an adventure beyond his wildest imagination.
When Albert’s father sends him into the forest to deliver a letter, he has no idea that he will wind up enlisted in a secret society deep within the Earth. Albert and fellow enlistees Birdie and Leroy find themselves in training to become Balance Keepers, guardians of the underworld realms. The three select tokens that promise ordinary powers, but they soon realize that even the abilities to swim like a fish or think like a supercomputer are not enough to prepare them for the dangerous tasks ahead. However, unless they can learn to master their talents and work as a team, the whole world might be in danger. While Albert is a likable hero, the formulaic plot and copycat characters point to this debut’s major flaw: It’s little more than a mashup of other familiar series. Uninspired dialogue, failed attempts at humor and a landslide of inconsistencies contribute to the overall problem. Even gruesome monsters and a seemingly impossible quest fail to energize this lackluster adventure.
Unsuccessful both in concept and construct. (Fantasy. 8-12)