Kid’s Book Review: Contender – The Challenger

Kid’s Book Review: Contender – The Challenger

About the Book and Author

In a world far from our own, where enemies come in many forms, the ultimate battle for survival has begun. The Challenger is Book Two of Contender, an epic fantasy adventure trilogy by the bestselling author of the Summoner series, Taran Matharu.

Cade may have won the first round, but the fight is not over yet. For his next battle he must duel a seven-foot-tall, clawed monster – the reigning champion of an alien. Desperate for anything that may give him an advantage, Cade sets off on an expedition into the jungle to scavenge weaponry to help him win. But there he is captured by gladiators, and before he knows it, he finds himself participating in a deadly new game where the prize is his freedom.

You can read a review of the first book in the series Contender- The Chosen

The Contender cover
Taran Matharu

Taran was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for reading at a very early age. His love for stories developed into a desire to create his own, writing his first book at nine years old. At twenty-two, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write Summoner, taking part in Nanowrimo 2013.

Thanks to and updating daily, its popularity dramatically increased, reaching over three million reads in less than six months. After being featured by NBC News, Taran decided to launch his professional writing career and has never looked back.

The Summoner series has now been published in 15 territories and is a New York Times Bestseller. The Contender series is his second epic trilogy. You can find out more about the author on his website.

Book Review

The writing certainly inspires me as a young reader and I will look to use this sort of style and vocabulary in some of my own writing

‘There was blood in the water. Cade heaved on his fishing line, dismayed at the wriggling mass that churned beneath the surface. His catch, a flat silvered-bellied fish emerged half eaten, flopping glassy-eyed to the shoreline of the river.’

These opening lines for me really set the scene for this being a survival-based story. The fantasy world quickly comes to life in the novel giving a sense of the books theme and genre after reading the first few pages.

In my opinion this is a great start to the novel as immediately you can get a sense whether this novel is for you and whether you will keep turning the pages. Building on the theme and genre, the sense of darkness and the theme of war and battle are laid out well. I have plenty of experience of dry and boring plots however this plot never seems to falter, from the challenge of climbing mountains to fighting off aliens this book sends us on a rollercoaster of thoughts, feelings and much more.

After the introduction, we start our journey to the mountains where many obstacles are encountered but Cade and his team rise to the challenge. At this point the book does start to take a bit of time and perseverance as the build-up to the battle is lengthy. But once the battle commences it is worth the wait as the writing is compelling and with such a fantastic range of strong vocabulary this part of the novel is expressed fantastically.

You feel you are living every moment of Cade’s adventures. It then powers on to an even more dramatic ending where we get an exciting cliff hanger with Cade suddenly in great danger. Unlike a lot of novels, the cliff hanger here is super effective as you have been on the journey with Cade given the compelling writing and so you are desperate to know whether Cade survives and is okay in the end. This is the second in a series and I look forward to reading Round 3 if and when this is published.

Overall, my thoughts on this novel are that with a bit of perseverance halfway through, this novel is brilliant with a great plot, great characters and for me most importantly a great range of vocabulary. If read at the right age this is a real page-turner, especially I imagine if you have already read Contender The Chosen which is the first in the series.

The writing certainly inspires me as a young reader and I will look to use this sort of style and vocabulary in some of my own writing.

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Reviewer Profile

Alistair junior blogger
  • Name: Alistair
  • Age: 14 years
  • Likes: football, reading and pizza
  • Dislikes: jam and being lazy
  • Favourite Book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling
  • Favourite Song: Lucid Dreams by Juice World
  • Favourite Film: Skyfall