Back in November 2010 I wrote a review of the first two books in Alex Milway's brilliant Mythical 9th Division series, Operation Robot Storm and Terror of the Deep. Since then a further two books have been published in that series: The Magma Conspiracy and The Alien Moon. All four books follow the adventures of the members of the Mythical 9th Division, a team of three yetis that for the past 150 years have "existed as a top-secret branch of the British Armed Forces." The yetis Albrecht, Saar and Timonen make up just one of nine divisions of mythical creatures, tasked with keeping the world's population free from the forces of evil. As their various missions unfold, we get to meet mebers of these other divisions, including The Bigfoot (Mythical 6th), The Kitsune (Mythical 8th) and the Yowies (Mythical 4th).
In my review of the first two books I did not hold back from shouting about how much I loved them, and the third and fourth books in the series are more of the same brilliance. Why do I love this series so much? Firstly, they are perfect for readers aged 7+, with their mix of text and illustrations. Every chapter starts with four pages of comic-style panels, which are as much about moving the story on as they are about entertaining the reader. These panels are a stroke of genius and have the same effect as cliffhangers at the end of chapters - they make the reader want to continue turning pages to find out what happens next. Alex's illustrations are brilliant, and he spoils his readers as they do not just appear at the start of chapters as more illustrations are interspersed throughout the book.
However, although the illustrations are what first catch the eye, the books are made even more special by the quality of Alex Milway's story telling. These stories are packed full of wonderful silliness, fast-paced action and adventure, cool gadgets, nasty Bond-esque villains, and, of course, my personal favourite aspect, the yeti characters themselves. Back in November 2010 I described the three yetis as reminding me of a very hairy version of The A Team, as they bicker and argue their way through their missions, like a trio of brothers who on the face of it might seem to not get on, but deep down know that they would give their lives for each other. As readers we can laugh at their bickering and banter, whilst also appreciating the bond that exists between them.
|New, never before published yeti artwork, courtesy of the supremely talented Alex Milway|
There is a great deal to love about this series, and yet sadly it has probably gone unnoticed by too many aged 7+ readers, and that is why I wanted to bring it to your attention in my Under 14s Only month. I'm not sure whether the series ever got published in the US, but I have checked and all four books are currently available to buy from The Book Depository so they are well worth checking out, wherever you may live.
(edit: I have today been informed by Alex that the books have been published in the US this year by Kane Miller, so grab 'em while they're hot US readers).
Sadly, I do not believe there are any more Mythical 9th Division books scheduled for the future as a scan of Alex Milway's own website shows that he has been working on other projects, with Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey due to be published by Walker Books next year. However, you can still find out a little more about the yetis, as well as download a handy guide to all of the Mythical Divisions, over at http://www.mythical9th.com/