by A. E. Kaplan
Romance, for mature teens
Reviewed by S. L., grade 11
Grendel’s Guide to Love and War starts off with the main character, Tom Grendel. He lives with his dad in a small, quiet neighborhood with a bunch of elderly women and widows. Everything is going smoothly until one of the elderly, Minnie Taylor, passes away. Now the new neighbors, the Rothgars, have moved into Minnie’s former house.
Tom has a soft spot for their daughter, Willow Rothgar, but has been humiliated several times by her brother, Rex Rothgar, and cousin, Wolf Gates. When Ellen Rothgar, their mom, goes away to televise a hurricane over on the east coast, Rex and Wolf throw one of the loudest and most crowded parties Lake Heorot has ever seen. It drives Tom’s dad and the rest of the elderly neighbors crazy. Now it’s up to Tom to stop the party and win back peace and quiet for Lake Heorot. However, he needs help. Tom hits up his best friend, Ed Park, and his sister, Zip Grendel; and together, all three of them go on a crazy adventure and find a final solution to taking down the Rothgar’s party once and for all.
This book has been one of my favorite romance novels to read over the summer. It was so good that I read it twice in a matter of three weeks. Almost all of the characters in this book are likeable--people you would want to meet in real life. Even the cover of the book fits perfectly. The way Tom coped with the death of his mother was really interesting, and his strong bond with the elderly is also amazing. Even though the climax of the book took a little longer than other romance novels I have read, I felt so good after reading the ending; all the suspense and stress building up to get to the good parts made them an absolute pleasure.
There should be a sequel, in which Willow and Tom deepen their relationship together. I would rate this 5 swine out of 5 because it's a page-turner with an amazing and fulfilling ending.
Editor's note: Yes, it really is based on Beowulf! It's also quite humorous.