This hilarious little fantasy misadventure by Jim C. Hines focuses on Jig, a near-sighted goblin runt who has only survived as long as he has by being smarter than the other goblins. When he is captured by adventurers and forced to lead them into the deep tunnels of his mountain, though, he figures his time is up.
Jig is a very reluctant hero, and because he’s so powerless most of the time he’s a lot of fun. He’s an interesting character, because had the author given him more power he would not be someone most people would want to read about (he’s quite happy to engage in some casual cannibalism or kill just about anyone if he thinks he can get away with it; these are healthy and normal attitudes given the goblin culture Hines describes, but still not terribly savory). However, he is forced to manage on his wits alone most of the time and is usually about one step away from a messy death.
Another reason I enjoyed Goblin Quest so much was because the whole book is pretty much satirizing Tolkien. It’s not often that someone is able to take Tolkien-style stereotypical elves, humans, dwarves, and goblins and turn them into something that’s this enjoyable while still sticking maintaining respect for the things that make the source material great (like the journey of the reluctant, underpowered hero).
Goblin Quest is kind of hard for me to categorize; it’s certainly a fun read for adults, and likely would be automatically classified as YA if the characters were a little younger. Depending on the kid, it would be readable for children, as well, although I would be a little more hesitant there since the level of violence can get pretty high (and as I mentioned, violence and killing is *very* casual for just about all characters involved). Probably one of those books you would want to read and then hand on to your younger ones at your own discretion.
The plot summary contains spoilers! Show it anyway.