The Gregorian Institute Shield, composed of the crossed gold and silver keys of the Papal Insignia, an open book with the words 'Via Veritas Vita' ('The Way, the Truth, and the Life') written on its pages, three golden six-sided stars on a red banner, and a Germanic cross.

at BENEDICTINE COLLEGE

10 Reasons to Love Raymond Arroyo’s ‘Will Wilder’

One of the most successful young adult adventure novels of recent times is now a bestselling series.

Raymond Arroyo, anchor of EWTN’s The World Over, published Will Wilder: The Lost Staff of Wonders in March — then visited Benedictine College in April. Like its predecessor, Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls, the sequel is a bestseller and has been receiving excellent reviews.

As some have noted, the Will Wilder series makes great reading for people of all ages. Why? Here are some of the best reasons.

NOTA BENE! There be mild spoilers ahead.

[More Will Wilder: Hoping for a Faith-Filled Fun-Read Revolution]

10. It depicts evil as evil.

There’s none of this modern “he’s just misunderstood” thinking or “if only she knew better” kind of pandering. No, evil is depicted in Will Wilder as evil: a consciously chosen path of individualistic power and honor that doesn’t mind if others suffer horribly as a consequence, and which goes beyond merely human depravity.

9. It depicts human faults and imperfections as human faults and imperfections.

The protagonists are mostly advanced pre-teens, so, yes, they’re overcoming challenges. Lots of challenges. And they’re doing so with the usual frustrations that attend such acquisitions. Arroyo is good at showing these faults for what they are: not evil, but not mere video-game challenges to overcome in the hopes of “leveling up.” They’re part of our condition.

8. It shows respect for the elderly.

A big danger in young adult novels is the glorification of youth, which usually comes with a denigration of the elderly. There are several older characters in the novel who do something more than act as repositories of pithy quotables. They actually kick some serious butt when the time comes–and offer counter-cultural wisdom.

7. It depicts the struggle for virtue as an adventure-worthy challenge.

Each of these books depicts the characters striving to advance in the pursuit of virtue, but in language young adults won’t balk at. Sometimes the characters fail, and with a refreshing absence of emotivism they don’t gloomily brood on their insufficiencies. They learn from each other and keep going for it with a Chestertonian sense of joyful risk.

6. There are all kinds of fun allusions to the Christian tradition.

The unobtrusive references are fun when you find them. For instance, one character has a boat named the Stella Maris

5. It satirizes deadbeat dads.

There are many prominent examples in the series of fathers who don’t stand up to their duties as providers and thus become debilitatingly submissive. Arroyo sends a clear message straight out of a Myles Connolly novel: wake up, fathers, and be heroic!

4. It satirizes aggressive, helicopter parents.

There are several parents in the series whose actions, if they were to follow through with them, would do some kind of damage to their kids. Arroyo has you rooting for the kids in these cases, and rightfully so.

3. There are plenty of compelling adults.

It’s not easy in young adult fiction to depict older characters in a flattering light, especially those who know something more than the child heroes. Arroyo does this with some deft slight of hand. For instance, there’s a secret in one of the books that takes more than 100 pages to unfold, and when an adult reveals it, both the readers and the child protagonists are very grateful for his guardianship.

2. Arroyo has skills. Literary skills.

You may have seen Arroyo’s interviews with Dean Koontz, from which Arroyo has gleaned a literary lesson or two. To boot, there are well-crafted moments of dramatic irony in the series, where Arroyo hangs a major plot point on something the readers know but the characters don’t. These make for a very enjoyable ride.

1. There’s a holy water super soaker.

No joke. There’s an Abbot-endorsed holy water super soaker that ends up being extremely useful against a horde of invading monsters. It brings a whole new level to “geek chic.”

This article originally appeared at EpicPew.

Tags: , , , ,

Never miss a post! Subscribe below to our weekly newsletter.

Stephen Mirarchi

Dr. Stephen Mirarchi is Assistant Professor of English at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He is the author of two annotated editions of Myles Connolly's novels, and his shorter academic work has appeared in Christianity & Literature, Religion & the Arts, Seminary Journal, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, and others. His journalistic work has been published in the Boston Globe, the National Catholic Register, Crisis, and others.