Full review can be found here!
“January” certainly has all the ingredients to catch the fancy of young male readers, which seem to be the book’s target audience. There are already thrilling action scenes less than 20 pages in, and it rarely lets up as the slim novel progresses.
The scrapes that Callum gets himself into throughout the novel are also something that will definitely excite young male readers. in less than 200 pages, Callum gets to battle with sharks, escape from criminals, and break in and steal from his villainous Uncle Rafe.
It’s also got something for the rebellious and misunderstood teen — most of the adults in the novel are either either too naive or too evil. It is the youngsters like Callum and his best friend Boges that show courage and creativity, and it’s easy to see how young readers can find this an engaging read.
“January” isn’t short on gimmicks, either. Pages are numbered in a descending order, so readers start on page 185 and end on page one. It’s a nice touch, as the page numbers now serve a secondary purpose: a countdown towards the book’s cliffhanger ending.
However, it’s this same strong appeal to younger readers that will probably prevent “January” — and the rest of the books in the “Conspiracy 365” series — from reaching a readership beyond its expected audience.
While following Callum’s first person narration as he tries to survive the month of January can be thrilling, it doesn’t offer much when it comes to character development or emotion. The black and white world that Callum moves in in “January” may be engrossing for the tween reader, but it may not prove the same for older readers.
The conceit that there has to be a book out every month of the year has also made the plot for “January” less than satisfying for older readers. It is ironic that action scenes abound in the book but the movement of the plot isn’t as exciting. The only pressing reason to read “February” is to see if Callum has survived, and it’s easy enough to deduce that because there are several more books in the series.
All in all, “January” and the rest of the books in the series will definitely be something that tween readers will enjoy and probably anticipate month after month. However, those expecting it to achieve cross-generational success — in the same vein as “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games” — are better served by looking someplace else.