Homerooms and Hall Passes by Tom O'Donnell
In the mystical realm of Bríandalör, every day the brave and the bold delve into hidden temples or forgotten dungeons, battling vile monsters and evil wizards to loot their treasure hoards for sweet, sweet magic items.
But in their free time, our heroes—Thromdurr the mighty barbarian, Devis the shifty thief, Vela the noble paladin, Sorrowshade the Gloom Elf assassin, and Albiorix the (good!) wizard—need to relax and unwind.
That’s why they meet up once a week to play Homerooms & Hall Passes: a role-playing game where they assume the characters of average American eighth graders.
But when the five young adventurers are magically transported into their H&H game by an ancient curse, they must band together to survive their toughest challenge yet: middle school.
Who knew that battling ogres would be easier than passing algebra or navigating the cafeteria social scene? They must use what they’ve learned from playing Homerooms & Hall Passes to figure out how to save their game world (which might actually be real...).
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookCon 2019 and Balzer + Bray in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This is definitely not the type of book I would normally pick up for myself. Even as this ARC has been sneaking closer and closer to the top of my TBR, I’ve found myself dreading it. It’s just so… solidly… not something I would have chosen, based on the cover and the description?
But I gotta be honest, y’all. Homerooms and Hall Passes was actually pretty entertaining!
At no point did this book take itself seriously, and thank goodness for that because if this took itself seriously, it would have been intolerable. There were a lot of chuckle moments. Now, right off the bat, Homerooms and Hall Passes is clearly digging on Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not sure if there are any D&D players here, but my experience of this sector of nerd subculture is that there are two dominant types – people who are doing it for fun, and people who take it very seriously. If you find yourself in the second camp, Homerooms and Hall Passes will not be a good fit.
This is definitely a middle grade book. The writing is simple, there are silly meme jokes, and the characters are only as developed as they need to be. I should also mention that the character are stereotypes. This is intentional – they’re all based on typical D&D character classes so, yeah, the thief steals and the barbarian yells and the paladin is very righteous and honest. They’re all good, but don’t expect anything surprising from them. There’s also a good gender balance, which I appreciated.
The plot is a typical good vs. evil quest. Again, nothing really surprising here. The story moves along at a steady pace. This story is really more of a novelty story, with the fun and unique item of flipping D&D upside down and instead having fantasy characters ported into a typical middle school situation.
As far as the characters go, I think Thromdurr was my favorite. As the Barbarian character type, he reminded me of Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy. There were a lot of jokes coming from his character and a lot of really stereotypical angry outbursts… a lot of ALL CAPS moments. But it was fun. Also the Epic Boss Battle at the end was fun.
As far as Homerooms and Hall Passes goes, I’m still not in love with it and a book for me but I think it was well executed for what it was. It was an entertaining read and I think that middle grade readers will find it amusing.
Homerooms and Hall Passes will be donated.
Or, more to the point, I have a specific person in mind in the appropriate age group that I am going to pass this on to. Since I’m not really the target audience for this book, it doesn’t come as a big surprise that this one isn’t a keeper for me.
Have you ever played D&D? I’ve always wanted to, but as a kid, my parents wouldn’t let me. As an adult, my D&D-playing friends refer me to other websites and such to learn about it… so I guess the n00b status is permanent. I have played a new D&D inspired games, like Neverwinter, so I’ve definitely been in the world. 🙂