Title: General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms
Author: David Bush
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
Set in the animal kingdom called “Our Land,” General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms is told through the eyes of a cat named Miaow. After having been witness to the inequalities of Our Land for far too long and at much too high a personal cost, Miaow longs for change. King Roar, the leader of the Feline Kingdom that rules the land, must be defeated. But Miaow is powerless to stop him. Miaow’s wishes come true in the form of a young boy named Jack, soon to be deemed General Jack. Together, they concoct a plan to overthrow the King using the resources the have at hand: the entire animal kingdom.
This work of young adult fiction follows Miaow and General Jack as they launch a full-scale war effort against King Roar and the Feline Kingdom. Although a story with animal protagonists may seem juvenile at surface level, General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms delves into important and relevant topics including several different types of government and descent into anarchy that closely mirror the educational importance of books such as Animal Farm, by George Orwell.
Readers will enjoy the first few chapters where Miaow outlines each of the five kingdoms. Not only does it set the stage for the remainder of the book, it also provides insight into one of the key issues discussed, inequality between classes, which is an extremely relevant and important issue, specifically for young adults. Several of the themes and ideas presented in this book are some which we should all keep in mind.
“Concentrate on the possible in the word impossible. It’s easy. You just have to ignore the first two letters of the word and the impossible becomes possible.”- General Jack
The black and white images that are dispersed throughout the novel serve to enhance the reader’s journey rather than distract or detract from the plot. Specifically, the diagrams outlining General Jack’s plan for war are particularly useful, creating a vivid and clear scene of the resistance’s united front.
The final chapter, told through the eyes of Miaow’s grandson, evaluates several main characters and highlights their strengths, weaknesses, and overall character progression. It will serve as a useful tool for young adults to coordinate their thoughts and form conclusions about the characters. Additionally, the vocabulary used throughout the book is sufficiently advanced to challenge even the most seasoned of readers without becoming awkward, overbearing, or difficult to understand.
Bush’s story presents an interesting series of events describing how the animals that originated in Our Land dispersed to each corner of the world we live in today, post-Pangea. One point of confusion occurred when dinosaurs entered into the story. In the time of Our Land, dinosaurs supposedly existed at the same time as both humans and the animals we see today. The story would have made more sense had dinosaurs been excluded.
Each character in this story is well developed. Despite the animal kingdom setting the book takes place within, readers will be surrounded with well-rounded, relatable, and lifelike characters. Despite this, some of the character names, such as “King Roar,” “Purr,” and “Scratchy” could be seen as juvenile and did not do justice to the more advanced writing style and story content.
General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms is a story of adventure, espionage, and learning to nurture self-confidence in the face of adversity. Bush not only provides readers with a compelling and entertaining story, but also lays the foundation for younger readers to begin exploring the issues behind inequalities between classes. Readers will love the dynamic characters, deep-seated and relevant themes, and adventurous spirit of this book.
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