Book Review: Mik Murdoch by Mike Plested (available from Five Rivers Publishing August 1, 2012)
Growing up as a kid in the backwoods of Minnesota I spent a great deal of time dreaming of what I would do if I had super powers. I had read a lot of comics and knew a lot of different super heroes. I spent a lot of time staring down a tree trying to bend it to my will. I never succeeded. I jumped off a lot of things in an effort to fly. I’m lucky that I never broke anything. I held my breath for what felt like hours and it turned out to only be seconds. I found tools and old objects in the ‘dump’ we had in our back yard.
The ‘dump’ was a large hole in the ground that we were trying to fill in so people would ‘dump’ all sorts of things back there. A lot of broken lumber, old cars, appliances, trees. It was great fun to explore as the pile changed all the time. My brother and I had built a tree house from scraps, put knobs and dials on the walls. Constructed our own contraptions that did many different things.
What I’m saying here is Mike has written a book that really hit home for me.
As a Reader: Mik, for me, is a typical boy. One who is not content with just being a boy. He wants to do more and be more than he is. He tries hard and when bullies knock him down he gets right back up. When he runs into a problem he can’t solve, he tries to gain super powers to over come them. That’s just like any eight-year-old I know. Through trial and error Mik succeeds in failing in many interesting ways. Along the way he’s bullied by a girl and her dog, a glowing turkey, and continues to work hard along the way.
This book is intended for middle-school to young adult and it’s a fun story. It’s told in a series of events throughout the school year and each has Mik working hard to resolve the problem or situation at hand. Not the least of which is keeping his superhero secret identity from his parents. Mike Plested does a great job with building Mik up, giving him challenges that he must think his way through, and work hard to overcome. Not everything he does is successful and Mik learns through trial and error.
As a Writer: When I got through the first half of this book, I had thought the story telling was a little bumpy in spots and I had gotten into the meat of the story. What I discovered was this wasn’t just one story, but multiple stories all wrapped into one. I loved the way Mik went through all his attempts trying to discover how to achieve his own super powers and always had to come to a solution that made sense and fit within the reality of the story.
Mik’s growth from frustrated kid trying to gain super powers to a boy moderately satisfied with accomplishing tasks within his own means is a fun growth arc. For the most part Mik is left to his own devices though there are times when his parents intervene on his behalf and that helps to add to the realism of his growth. The adults are not clueless, but don’t pry too much which gives Mik freedom to do what needs to be done to work on achieving his dream.
Recommendation: Mik Murdoch is intended for a younger audience. Knowing that going in will allow older readers to enjoy this story. Even if this isn’t your cup of tea, it’ll make great reading for your middle schooler or young adult reader. A fun journey of a young boy and his dog (Krypto). From what I can tell we’re not done with Mik. Or at least we can hope we’ll see more. This is only the start of great things to come from Mr. Plested. I’m glad to say I was there from the start.