Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

The League of Seven

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

The League of Seven

Article excerpt

Alan Gratz. The League of Seven. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. New York: A Tom Doherty Associates Book, 2014. 350pp. Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-7653-3825-9. $9.99.

I remained hopeful that I would find something unique in this book until I started reading it. To be frank, I doubted that I should pick it up when I saw it on the Macmillan display table. I detailed my complaints with these types of formulaic books that have been popping up since Harry Potter became the top bestselling series of all time. I was wrapped up in reading the Potter books myself, but after I finished that series, I felt pretty disgusted with it all. I explained the parallels between Potter and books like the Percy Jackson in my scholarly book, Formulas of Popular Fiction (McFarland), pointing out how Jackson mimics Potter's linguistic, structural and illustration style, in an attempt to find a similar market niche. The parallels are very similar here, and in fact, Gratz might be satirizing this pattern when he sets up the seven hyper-formulaic heroes, which are common to most fantasy plots in this category. "The League of Seven. They were always seven, and always the same: a tinker, a law-bringer, a scientist, a trickster, a warrior, a strongman, and a hero. Seven men and women with incredible powers from all parts of the known world who joined forces to stop the Mangleborn from enslaving humanity." Thus opens the first page of the book. Of course, the pattern becomes a bit absurd because some of these titles are repetitions with the same formulaic meanings-can you think of the difference between a warrior, a strongman and the hero in an average epic fantasy? Because of this linguistic absurdity and because the heroes are identified by their types, this seems to be a satire on the genre. …

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