Archive Reviews

Archive Review: Avalon High by Meg Cabot

Elaine has been living the unfortunate life of the teenager daughter to two medieval scholars. When her parents take a joint sabbatical to Maryland, Elaine is brought along with them. Things aren’t all bad though. Their temporary home has a pool, there’s a nearby park Elaine can run the track of, and there’s a very attractive young man named Will. Somehow, Elaine keeps running into him despite the fact that her social status at her new school–Avalon High–shouldn’t allow for so many brushes with the school Quarterback.


What is Avalon High about?

This retelling of the Arthurian legend is about largely Elaine. Having just moved to Maryland and started attending Avalon High, Elaine quickly finds her place in the social food chain as a track and field girl. But somehow she also catches the attention of quarterback, Will. Will seems to be having some sort of crisis. He’s not as interested in his friendship with Lance, or his relationship with Jen. His stepbrother Marcus has been having issues at home, and he just seems to be distant from his peers and family. But Elaine gets through to him and they begin to become friends despite all odds. And then one of their teachers reveals something startling and disturbing to Elaine after her group project with Lance falls through.

Genre: YA Fantasy

There are some fantasy elements at play in this book, not least of all because it centers around the possibility of King Arthur being reborn. There’s some magic at play, and lots of Arthurian references throughout the story.

Tropes: Retellings aren’t always Reliable

Even the characters in this retelling realize at some point that they’re involved in a reincarnation of the Arthurian legendary characters. But what’s fun about this retelling (that the Disney movie just completely ruins) is that the characters aren’t perfectly able to tell who is who. They misidentify certain elements of the story and don’t realize who all the players are immediately.

Plot: Sometimes nerdy girls are badasses

Elaine really gets to shine as a nerdy girl in this book. She comes in as an unexpected new addition to her school, immediately befriends a popular boy and gets invited to his parties, as well as gets to play a major part in the Arthurian legend. It’s pretty fun to see!

The Good

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As any veteran Cabot reader may know, the author has a few quirks in writing that can be rather grating if the style doesn’t work for you. From having read quite a bit of her works, I can tell you Avalon High suffers the least from the highly similar narrative voices the rest of Cabot’s main characters tend to have. Elaine has a much more distinct voice, is more mature overall, and is surrounded by likewise more serious and interesting characters. I enjoyed the Arthurian themes, the choices in the reincarnation/retelling approach, and the descriptions were surprisingly beautiful. I liked the characters, the plot, the pacing the dialogue, the romances, I liked….everything!

Final Thoughts

I have a deep attachment to this book, I won’t lie. It doesn’t read, to me, like a typical Meg Cabot book. There’s greater stakes than usual, and the Arthurian legend incorporation is actually quite well done. This book is a really good example of a narrative written for a teenage audience that doesn’t speak down to them, or push too much on them expectations wise. There’s adventure, romance, friendship, magic, and a lot of fun! I definitely recommend this if you enjoy YA or YA Fantasy!

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By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

4 replies on “Archive Review: Avalon High by Meg Cabot”

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