Pandemonium by Chris Wooding and Cassandra Diaz

Seifer has lived all his life in his small village in the mountains, playing Skrullball (very much like Quidditch in the Harry Potter series, except without broomsticks) and wishing he could find out what lies beyond mountains, despite the fact that his father tells him there's nothing there but pain and sorrow.

Then Seifer gets his chance to find out -- he's attacked, kidnapped and brought to the royal palace in Pandemonium. The Prince has gone missing and Seifer, who strangely looks just like Prince Talon, must pretend to be him, so that the citizens of Pandemonium will not panic and the kingdom's enemies will not become bold enough to attack. Seifer is also to be used as bait to draw out those who might have kidnapped the prince. Knowing the danger of doing this, Seifer only wants to go back home to his family -- but if he refuses, he will be fed to psychotic carnage beasts.

However, it's no easy task for Seifer, a commoner of an isolated village, to learn how to behave like royalty and to assume Prince Talon's personality (which is egotistic and harsh). He has to fool Prince Talon's two sisters, officials, generals and enemies, and things get more complicated when Seifer falls for the daughter of a Baron from a nearby clan. But the kingdom is on the brink of war and if Seifer doesn't pull his impersonation off, he's not the only one who's life will be at risk.

After reading Malice and Havoc, I was excited to see what Chris Wooding's first graphic novel would be like. I thought he'd do the illustrations himself, since he did the ones in Malice and Havoc -- but it turns out Scholastic hired Cassandra Diaz to do the artwork. The illustrations mimic Japanese manga styles and are done in dark tones of grey, blue and red, which suits the characters and storyline quite well.

Most of the characters of the book are creatures that look human-like, but have various additions, like wings or horns. Seifer looks like an ordinary human, except he has large black wings (yes, he can fly), pointy ear-like things on the sides of his head (very much like a bat) and eats raw meat and bugs. The story jumps right in, with little explanation regarding the different species (if you can call them that), their magical powers or history. I thought a little more detail on these facts would have been nice -- but then again, the plot is pretty understandable without them, and allows the reader to get into the action faster. And while the plot isn't particularly original or sophisticated, I did have fun reading it. Besides, it really wasn't written to provoke deep thought. Just read Chris Wooding's comments about Pandemonium from his website: "It will make you happy while you eat cupcakes. What else do you need to know?"

With the way the book ends, it seems that a sequel should follow, though there's no word on when it will be published. 

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