My rating: ★★☆☆☆
If you, like I, were worried that Adam Blade’s Beast Quest would be an extremely black-and-white adventure series about children pointlessly slaughtering Always Chaotic Evil “monsters”, you can stop worrying. It’s not quite that bad. Rather, it’s a series in which two preteens, Tom and Elenna of Avantia, go on a quest to save the mythological Beasts–guardians of Avantia–from the brainwashing powers of Devimon’s Black Gears. Wait, no–that’s the Digimon Emperor’s Control Spires. No! The Shikon no Tama shards? Chimera animas? Or–oh, whatever.
…my point is that there’s absolutely nothing here that hasn’t been done before. I’ve seen the “animals/monsters brainwashed by the nefarious McGuffin” plot plenty of times. I’ve seen the “two or three ten-year-olds who are for some reason the only people capable of or brave enough to completely this world-saving mission” plot more times than anyone can count. We’ve all seen the evil overlords, the good wizards, the brave children, the missing father, and all the other fantasy cliches of Ferno the Fire Dragon over and over and over again…
But I think the thing to keep in mind with Beast Quest is that the target audience might not have seen all this before. Beast Quest might be a good starting point for children to get involved in the fantasy genre. If they haven’t seen all the stock characters and cliche plots before this, Beast Quest might be something they’ll enjoy; it might even be something that they’ll look back on with nostalgia when they’re all grown up (and hopefully have moved on to fantasy works of far better quality).
If you’re really trying to excite your children about the fantasy, Beast Quest isn’t the series I would suggest. For the younger audience who aren’t ready for books over 100 or 200 pages, I’d suggest starting with Emily Rodda’s Deltora Quest. It’s more interesting, the writing is better, and it has two sequel series and an anime adaptation. If your child’s a little older than the target audience for the Deltora series, I’d suggest Harry Potter (MG/YA wizard-focused fantasy set in 1990’s Britain, in case you somehow don’t know), Percy Jackson (MG mythological fantasy set in modern America), or Song of the Lioness (YA feminist fantasy set in the fictional kingdom of Tortall).
However, if your child just wants something to read, Beast Quest isn’t the worst thing you can pick up. It’s a long series of short books, and if the rest of them are anything like the first, their plots are cliche and simplistic. But it should be entertaining enough to children just getting into chapter books, and it’s certainly not the worst way to be introduced to the genre. If they like it, try Deltora Quest next; it’s much better. If they hate it… well, there’s always sci-fi.