In Chewy Noh and the Fall of the Mu-dang our hero is Hee-Chu Noh – or Chewy, as everyone calls him – a Korean boy who has moved to America with his mother for school.
At first everything goes smoothly and most of the students like Chewy, despite the class bullies, the Grumblys, giving him a hard time. Chewy and his newly found best friend Clint stick together and eventually decide to get to the bottom of why the Grumblys are bullies. But they have no idea what they will discover and how the situation at school will change before that.
In the meanwhile, not everything is at it seems in Chewy’s family. There are secrets surrounding his grandparents, and his mother has odd headaches that only seem to be getting worse. As a baby, Chewy had been taken to a mysterious mu-dang for naming when the old fortune-teller warned his parents of a hard and unpredictable future. Through a series of events Chewy’s life becomes even more bizarre as he receives superpowers. Now he’s faced with the task of figuring out just how to use those powers.
While this book might be targeted at a younger audience, I found it enjoyable and the theme of bullying touches people of every age. The superpower thing aside, the story felt real and I can imagine the events of Chewy’s school playing out in countless schools around the world. Being the new kid isn’t always easy and, unfortunately, rumors spread like wildfire among kids.
The book offers glimpses of many PoVs, including Chewy and his family and school mates, which kept it interesting. Sometimes it was hard to grasp on to the narrative because it switched between being limited and omniscient. At one point the story focused on only one character and their emotions/thoughts, but at another it told us how everyone on scene felt. This might be a personal opinion but I also found the dialogue hard to follow at times because the action tags were on separate lines from what was actually being said. Not a major issue in any case. I’m not sure if the ending was the best but I think I understand what the author was trying to say with it.
This is an easy read with a heavy message. Characters have their strengths and weaknesses, and nothing is strictly black and white. I liked the book despite the few flaws I mentioned. Maybe I would’ve liked it more when I was younger so I’d recommend this to younger readers.
Note: This review was a part of an exchange where I read Tim’s book and he read mine.