3 out of 4 stars
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Callum McBride by Michael Riding revolves around two twelve-year-olds: Callum McBride, an adopted boy who had the unique ability to access the minds of animals and control them, and Emma Higgins, an autistic whizz-kid. Emma was new to the neighborhood, and both of them feeling lonely and without friends during the holidays would lead them to connect. They would endure a rocky start to their friendship while Callum struggled to understand Emma. Nevertheless, their special abilities would draw them closer, and when the suspicious origin of Callum's ability starts to come to light, Callum and Emma are drawn into dangerous situations, as they encounter people that will go to any length to keep their secrets.
Michael Riding has presented a story that deeply engrossed me from start to finish, especially with the inclusion of Callum's unique ability that piqued my interest from my first encounter. My favorite aspect of the book was the author's expert execution of the characters who drive the story. We meet Callum and Emma, who are experiencing similar circumstances of not having any friends around. They also know that they are different from the people around them. I liked how the author explored the differences between both of these characters and the tension those differences caused at certain points. For one, Callum seemed to lie a lot, and Emma always told the truth in any circumstance. Also, Emma had a straightforward and serious personality, while Callum was more complicated. Watching their relationship grow was a positive for me.
Watching a couple of children having to go through investigating a case that has been ongoing for years without resolution was difficult for me to fathom initially; however, when one of the children is a genius, and the other possesses "teletransference" abilities, it swings things in the protagonists' favor a little bit but not too much since the antagonist has an admirable spirit of determination and a special weapon of his own that I will not disclose here.
The story is fast-paced and full of adventure, suspense, and intense moments while the protagonists go deeper into their investigations of the root of Callum's powers. Readers will find it easy to root for these kids who face impossible odds. The level of detail the author employs in describing Callum's experiences in the minds of animals is also noteworthy.
The only thing I disliked about this book was the number of errors I found while reading. The errors were minor and not difficult to read through, but they occurred more times than I would have liked. A professional editor's touch would make this a perfect read.
All things considered, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Callum McBride. The issues with editing mean that I have to settle for rating the book three out of four. Readers who enjoy action and fantasy novels will enjoy reading this book. The book is portrayed as a children's book in its description, but I would not recommend it to children due to the inclusion of some scenes involving killings and minor profanity.
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