Reviewed by Natalie Tsang for TeensReadToo.com
STANDARD HERO BEHAVIOR by John David Anderson is the funniest and most enjoyable quest story I've read in awhile. I've always been under the impression that there is something inherently serious about quest stories, but here heroics and humor are combined in a combination as smooth and delicious as cookies and milk.
This is not to say the stakes aren't high. Mason Quayle, a teenage bard, and his best friend, Cowel, have three days to find some heroes to save their village from an onslaught of monsters. On the way, they are attacked by... a cross-dressing thug, militant pixies, and a pack of terrifying if ridiculous animals called "whatisits."
But to start at the beginning, Mason Quayle is a bard who has nothing to commemorate. His town, Highsmith, recently renamed Darlington, was once constantly in danger from orcs and goblins and something of a hero resort, but business has since dried up in the relative peace. So when the opportunity for adventure arises, Mason decides to take it. Besides Cowel, Mason has a trusty steed named Steed and an unfinished book by his long vanished father titled Quayle's Guide to Adventures for the Unadventurous.
The going isn't easy and they also stumble upon the answers to questions that Mason has been asking for the last ten years: Where is his father? What was he like? Why didn't he return home? John David Anderson has written a wonderful book. It's one of those rare fantasies that is more about people than plot. It also manages to be both funny and honest. Not honest, in the way of honesty meaning reality, but honest meaning telling this fictional world as it is, unflinchingly.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is having a bad day. Mason and Cowel's three days are undoubtedly worse. If that fact doesn't make you smile, their misadventures will.