The Yellow Hoods: Along Came A Wolf
Called “The Harry Potter of technology” and “A cross between Hunger Games and the Kingkiller Chronicles,” the Amazon best seller series, The Yellow Hoods, is a gripping, whimsical adventure that’s layered for the young and mature adult, making it great for ages 9 to 90.
Someone is on the hunt for the steam engine plans, and believe that master inventor, Nikolas Klaus, has them. Thought dead by most, and forgotten by many, the quiet grandfather has been living for years in the sleepy mountain town of Minette, keeping his inventions mostly to himself and watching after his granddaughter grow up.
Twelve year old Tee, and her two best friends, Elly and Richy, come together as the heroic Yellow Hoods in the face of life threatening danger. Whose side are the Cochon brothers on, and will they tip the balance? Will Nikolas’ ties to one of the secret society cost him Tee’s life?
The world is 1800s-eque, with a rich history that is discovered throughout the series. Grounded fairy-tale elements are incorporated in the background, providing additional depth and enrichment for the mature reader.
I follow Adam Dreece on Twitter, like his engagement with tweeters, and so bought the book.
If you don’t know what steampunk is (and I didn’t), it is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, “A genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.” Adam describes it as “a genre usually associated with Jules Verne. It takes a historical period, generally the Victorian era, and adds technologies such as air ships, steam computers or other inventions, as a result the advent of the steam engine.” He added the word “emergent” because: “Rather than having everything about the Steampunk world already in place, I wanted to bring the reader along as the world started to change.” That’s helpful to me, as someone new to the genre.
There is a lot to like about this first novel. Adam says it is a “young adult novel with layers for the more mature reader”. I didn’t see it quite like that: I would say it is a great book to be read by an adult to an older child (the protagonists are about 12, but I think children from as young as eight would enjoy the story). A child will love the young heroes – the three “Yellow Hoods” (because they wear yellow cloaks with hoods), Tee, Elly and Richy, and will want to live in their world and do the exciting things they do (I want to live in their world and do the exciting things they do); an adult will pick up on the well-known fairy-tales that are woven into the text and the slightly more grown-up humour that will be over a young person’s head.
There are quite a lot of moral strands to the story: the bonds of family; being kind to strangers; letting a child develop their own nature but steer them in the right direction; be wild but be safe; provide the building blocks and raw materials but let a child learn by working with them in their own way. All of these come out in the story in a natural and in-passing manner, without sermonising or in a way that will make a young person roll their eyes. I think parents will identify with a lot of what’s said.
The character development is nice, and it will be interesting to see how Tee grows over the series.
The story is fast-paced – a little too fast in one or two places. But it is easy to get swept up with the story and pulled along. The chapter titles are important and worth taking note of, so don’t overlook them.
The adults are written well – Tee’s parents, her wonderful grandfather Nikolas Klaus, the villain LeLoup, and the three Cochon brothers (although I was a bit confused by them to start with and why Tee didn’t know them). The little bit of romance at the end is a nice touch, too.
This first book is wrapped up nicely, but there are a few open ends to entice you to read the second in the series – that worked for me: I have already downloaded it (The Breadcrumb Trail).
Oh, and I can definitely see this being made into a film.
Editorial Input & Design
I think the book could have done with one more edit with tweaks to make it flow a little better. I think to make this attractive to the young adult reader, which it is aimed at, some of the sentences need drawing out to lift them from a child’s level – both the length and the vocabulary. But as I am neither a child nor a young adult – and my definition of a young adult might be different from yours – I am happy to be corrected on that. I’d say professional copy-editing and proofreading have been done, and done well.
Cover: Lovely, professional cover. Tee looks older than 12. But it looks great – clearly for young people, but not childish, and with a couple of interesting touches that make you want to read the book to find out more.
Internal design: Professional; no problems.
Book Clubs & Reviews
Suitable for young teenage book clubs. There is plenty to discuss and it would be interesting to see how much of the adult stuff teenagers picked up on. Maybe the series as a whole would be a good book club choice for adults – I’ll let you know when I’ve read the whole series! This book on its own wouldn’t have enough in it to keep adults discussing it for a whole meeting.
What others are saying: Amazon UK readers give it 5 stars (2 reviewers); Amazon US readers give it 4.6 stars (42 reviewers); Goodreads readers give it 4.51 stars (72 ratings).
Buy & Author
Amazon (Kindle £2.99/$4.48; paperback £8.74/$11.69)
Website (recommended for readers (there’s info about the characters, among other things) and writers)
Twitter @AdamDreece (recommended for readers and writers – Adam is magnificent at engaging with his Twitter followers, with snippets about his family and work, and giving little hints to what’s in the books; I would recommend other authors follow the example Adam sets)
Links of interest:
Adam Dreece on “5 things you might not know about the Yellow Hoods”
Adam Dreece explaining what he means by “emergent steampunk”
Young Adult Book Blog Interview with the author
Chocolate Wasteland Interview with the author