The Book of Shane

The Book of ShaneSpirit Animals Special Edition: Short Stories

Written by Nick Eliopulos

The idea of this book is great. I started out really excited. Animals and people bonded together is a neat way for humans to share animal characteristics. Getting the powers of the animals by using talisman is a convenient and somewhat reasonable way of transferring powers quickly when they are needed. Getting kids to read stories and then play games on the computer related to the book is motivational and an interactive way for kids to read and connect books to video games. This is an adventurous story that many children will love. As an adult reader I didn’t really care for it.
The biggest issue is that the writing jumps from one thought to another. Maybe if the reader had read the whole series then things would fall into place easier. Maybe this was not a good book to start the series with. Too much is either history from other books, or incomplete thoughts. Utah author Brandon Mull started writing the series. He is not currently writing this series, but he mapped out much of the land and peoples. Unfortunately, many things in this book are done for convenience. There are huge leaps from one thought to a completely unrelated event in the story. Maybe the computer game would help fill them in, but then the writing is incomplete. Maybe the series makes more sense if one has read all of them. But then I’m back to thinking that this story is incomplete.
There are good portions to the book. The hero, Shane, is able to use animals powers by summing their skills when he puts on a talisman. That’s a great trick. I bet Batman is jealous. Thinking about how a person gains their spirit animal is interesting but not really well spelled out. Bonding makes a human sick. Shane discovers that bile can be used so the person doesn’t get sick, but then there are consequences to that.
There are a lot of platitudes in the story that tell the readers to be their best, follow their heart, do the right thing, and other popular morals. There are statements meant to be profound, and allow the reader to think. For example, on page 140 Yumaris says that, “We adults feed our children a steady diet of poison, and then we’re surprised to find they’ve grown up to be poisonous.” Okay, that is an interesting thing to think about, it just didn’t have a lot to do with the story. Shane runs toward his problems. That provides a good role model. Like I said, many children will like this book.
Since this is a library book, and each code can be used only once I’m not sure what readers will do with used or library copies. The computer interaction will be taken away, and parts of the story seem like they would be very related to the video game.
The idea of moving between a game and a book is great. I’m sure some readers will really enjoy this format. It just didn’t do a lot for me. By the end of the book I no longer cared what happened. I just wanted it to end. Since it is a New York Times Bestselling Series I would guess not a lot of people agree with me.

Review by Cheryl Baker, Teacher, Mill Creek Elementary
Rating: ★★★✩✩ (3 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 3-6

Spirit Animals Special Edition: Short Stories
The Book of Shane
Written by Nick Eliopulos
Scholastic Inc.
186 pages
Release Date: 2015

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