Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Avalon High by Meg Cabot

What's not to love about Meg Cabot.  Yes, she's one of my favorite authors for the range of books she writes and for the total entertainment factor I get out of her stories.  My students are always shocked to hear I read for pleasure (why is that?) and especially young adult fiction, so I guess I need to step up the books I take to class to share with them!  Maybe I can now take in my most recent read, Avalon High.

Synopsis:  From Goodreads, "To newcomer Ellie, Avalon High seems like a typical American high school, complete with jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, and even the obligatory senior class president, quarterback, and all-around good guy. But it doesn't take Ellie long to suspect that something weird is going on beneath the glossy surface of this tranquil hall of learning. As she pieces together the meaning of this unfolding drama, she begins to recognize some haunting Arthurian echoes, causing her to worry that she has become just a pawn in mythic history."

Review:  It's so easy to love the tone and style of Meg Cabot's writing.  Her stand alone books, like Avalon High, are every bit as accessible and fun to read as her longer-running series.  In this case, the main character Ellie really carries the story and helps you access what's going on.  In fact, you grow to like her pretty early on in the story and want to find out what will happen to her and the other classmates.

One thing that I think is kind of interesting with this story is the intermingling of King Arthur and Camelot into this tale.  Although there are moments where this back story is explained, I wondered if the real tie in mattered much to those who are unfamiliar?  For me, it was really fun to tie it back to the original tale.  Also, Cabot uses a reference to "The Lady of Shallot" throughout the entire book.  Whether you love the poem by itself or remember it being quoted by Anne of Anne of Green Gables, it is an amazing poem that is filled with that heroic love of days gone by.  All of these references make it a bit more fun to consider if you're a knowledgeable reader.  Do you have to get all of that?  Well, you can still enjoy this fun story, but it makes it a lot better when you get all the references.

One thing that I did notice though, that beyond the literary and historical references this story felt like it was meant for a younger audience than some of her teen novels.  I enjoyed the story, but mainly kept moving along because of my own background with the references.  This wasn't my own personal favorite out of her books, but I think it has a nice main character, a fun twist on the normal teen drama, and a little romance to round it out.  This was definitely a fun story that is different from some of what you might have read before, with plenty of Cabot's delightful style.

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on a library copy of the book.


  1. I loved this one! You're right, having a knowledge of Arthurian legend and the Lady of Shalott poem made it that much more enjoyable. I still think back on this one and smile. It will definitely be a re-reader for me. s

  2. Which original story? Le Morte d'Arthur? The Once and Future King?

    I don't think you need to know the literary references of a novel in order to enjoy it, if it's good; but it definitely adds to one's enjoyment. :) Or maybe spoils it because you're like, "This is soooo derivative!"

  3. I have had this out from the library a couple times and still haven't read it!

  4. Fun, frothy, and very charming, Avalon High updates a legendary tale to make it palatable for today's teens and tweens. You'll definitely come away from this story with a need to uncover some more information about King Arthur and the infamous knights of the round table. This is a tale that is sure to satisfy.