Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade

Unlucky Charms

Unlucky Charms book cover
Image from Amazon

Title: Unlucky Charms (Cold Cereal #2)

Author: Adam Rex

Genre: Fantasy

WARNING: This book is second in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous books. If you haven’t read Cold Cereal, I recommend not reading this review.

Eleven-year-old Scott Doe is on the run with a motley collection of characters – his father, a well-known TV personality; his seven-year-old sister Polly Esther; super-genius Emily and her average brother Erno; a leprechaun named Mick; Harvey, a man with the head of a rabbit; his former housekeeper, more commonly known as Bigfoot; and Merle Lynn, known to fans of King Arthur stories as Merlin, a scientist from the future masquerading as an accountant. Who are they running from? The Goodco Cereal Company, which is secretly run by a fairy who plans to use breakfast cereal to take over the world. Not only can they not get get caught, they must stop this hare-brained (no offense to Harvey) scheme by traveling through a rift in the space-time continuum to convince the fairy court not to invade. Plus, they’ve got to reveal that Goodco replaced the Queen of England with two goblins in a queen suit. Shouldn’t be too hard.

After the zany fun of Cold Cereal, I was looking forward to Unlucky Charms. I expected an exciting, insane story – plus I was curious what other off-the-wall idea Adam Rex would have next.

I think Scott was supposed to be the main character. He was there in the whole story and he did a lot. But there was only one point where I felt like he was an actual character, not a stock character doing something onstage.

In Cold Cereal, I thought Scott was supposed to be the main character, but Emily and Erno seemed like the main characters. In Unlucky Charms, they were most definitely not. Emily played a pretty big part, but like Scott, she didn’t feel like an actual personality. I frequently forgot about Erno, he was so inessential.

In fact, the only character I thought was really great in Unlucky Charms was Merle. He ended up telling a lot of stories about his past, which was awesome, plus it gave his character a little more depth. I especially loved the way Arthurian legends were worked in. They were still recognizable, but Adam Rex’s wonky imagination played with them enough that they were super fun and a little bit crazy.

The plot was…okay, I’m not sure what the plot was in the first half of the book. Running from Goodco and trying to figure out how to save the world, maybe. The second half was trying to navigate the alternate fairy world and convince fairies not to invade (while not getting killed).

If that doesn’t seem like enough plot to fill this book…well, it didn’t to me, either. My copy is almost 400 pages, but it seemed really short. Like I-blinked-and-now-I’m-halfway-through-the-book short. I turned the last page and went, “that can’t be all. Hardly anything happened!”

This is one of those fast, fun reads that is great for a pick-me-up or break between heavy English class books. It also seems more geared towards middle graders, since I think older readers would want more characterization. I’m not sure I want to read the third book, whatever it is – when I finished Unlucky Charms, my first thought was, “I want more of Merle Lynn’s story.”

The Cold Cereal saga:

  1. Cold Cereal
  2. Unlucky Charms
  3. Book three, which I’m sure is forthcoming even though I can’t find anything about it
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