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Review: Homerooms and Hall Passes by Tom O’Donnell

Hey all, Dani here.

I’m just going to start today’s post by saying that I am feeling much better today than I have for like the past week. I got a really good night of sleep and when I woke up I didn’t feel as much chaos and sadness cluttering my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s not all gone, and they will reappear at some point, because they always do, but I’m going to take the time now to enjoy the fact that I’m feeling better.

Some of it may be because of the good night of sleep, some of it may be because of the spring-like weather in my area, and some of it may be because of the book I just finished reading. So, without further ado, let’s just go ahead and jump into today’s review so I can talk about this great Middle Grade March read.


Book Details

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 352

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: October 8, 2019

ISBN: 0062872141 (ISBN13: 9780062872142)


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…).

Dungeons & Dragons meets Jumanji in this new, laugh-out-loud adventure series from the author of the beloved Hamstersaurus Rex series.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

Okay, so I remember exactly when I first learned about this book. It was October 2019, Damian and I were standing in Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati waiting for our turn to meet Felicia Day. I was scrolling through Facebook and a sponsored ad post popped up in my timeline for a book, something that I’m very used to because I talk about books all the time. The cover and title definitely caught my interest, so I clicked on the ad to learn more, and read the summary you all saw just above this review portion. That’s when I also saw that the book was a new release. Damian and I wandered over to the young readers section of the store and searched for this book and brought it home. Damian actually read it shortly after that and I had planned to…but got distracted by other books.

So I didn’t read this book until the past couple of days. Yes, I do slightly regret waiting this long, but I can also say that I’m excited that I don’t have to wait as long for the sequel, which will be out in October 2020.

This book really does live up to the comparison of D&D meets Jumanji. It follows a group of adventurers in a fantasy realm who meet up weekly to play Homerooms & Hall Passes, a game of non-adventure where everyone plays as middle school students of various “classes”–loner, class clown, nerd, overachiever, gamer, etc–and has to deal with homework, quizzes, extracurricular activities and more. The concept alone just fascinated me.

The characters were endearing and their personalities burst from the pages. I love that we saw a bit of their regular adventuring life and then saw them get transported to the world of their game.  My favorite character was honestly Thromdurr the Barbarian AKA Douglas the Nerd, though they were each pretty fun. I can say that I really loved seeing the different forms of character creation that I definitely see on a regular basis in my own D&D groups. You have people who play characters similar to themselves, some play their exact opposite, some put a lot of thought into backstory while others come up with nothing unless absolutely forced to.

I related to so much of this story, as oftentimes the game world has a tendency to blend into your real one, regardless of the circumstances. I enjoyed that we got excerpts from the Homerooms & Hall Passes rulebooks at the beginning of each chapter, and I loved watching this fantasy adventuring party try to figure out how to survive in a modern day middle school.

There was action, there was friendship and camaraderie, there was adventure (and non-adventure, there was magic, and there was a lot of heart. I really loved reading this book, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what will happen to these characters in the sequel.

Where to Get a Copy

You can grab your own copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local independent bookstore through IndieBound.

You can also check with your local library.

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