Talisman of El is one of those middle grade fantasies that has basically everything to make an action-packed thriller for a male targeted audience. The plot is extremely well thought out, there are extremely brief moments of romance for the guys who can just never get the girl, and characters that are enjoyable to read about. Unfortunately though, the book relies on dry plot devices and humor to pave the way into the action for a dreadfully turtle-paced read. Let's just say that there are more positive attributes for this book than negative, but the negative are so painfully obvious.
We begin with Charlie, a kid whose been bouncing from foster home to foster home for most of his life. Then he finally gets the perfect foster parent that all children dream of, right? Sadly, it is not to be when his foster father turns out to be a criminal and is basically destroying his already crummy life that is plagued with nightmares. Life's swell for our poor guy Charlie. The storyline of this book is stuck in this plot hole for a while, taking its own sweet time to finally move along with the action. Even though there is an extremely long waiting period for the answer to all of the questions that are asked, nothing happens. Charlie and his buds meet and greet a whole ton of characters that take forever to lead us to the realization of the two worlds. Notice: I am not spoiling anything. Read the blurb if you think I've done something wrong!
While one reads, it may come to his or her attention that there are a heap of characters in this book. That was one of the problems I had: all of the characters felt the same, so I had a hard time distinguishing one from another. It was as if they were all androids programmed with the same personality that just forced the reader onto a dreary slope up to a climatic realization that will fall flat because the characters have already drived the reader to the point of insanity. I felt absolutely nothing for any of them. Not Charlie, not one of his friends, nor the old guy whose actually young (long story).
Like many books, this book has excelled with a fascinating and intriguing world development. The problem lies with the execution of the premise with shoddy character development, anticlimatic plot and somewhat weak writing. Surely the writing will improve over the course of the series, but there's a need for improvement soon. Even with so many faults, I found Talisman of El a cute read that stands out among the typical middle grade reads about kids going through puberty and an adventure of a lifetime because of their crummy destiny.