This is a really different approach to algebra. It is written as an adventure novel! The characters learn about algebra, why it is used and how it works as the story unfolds. Part of the rationale is that algebra is simply a shorthand way of writing mathematical situations; we should all appreciate short cuts and know how to use them. Rules are simply stated with technical terms pointed out, but not emphasized. In 289 pages, the author covers concepts from both Algebra I and II, so coverage is rather hurried. Concepts are presented in a different order than in most algebra programs, which makes it difficult to switch to another Algebra II course. Exercises for practice are included.
I love the approach for its creativity. However, it might move too quickly for those who have difficulty with math, and it might also be too incomplete for those who need a thorough math foundation to go on to higher math. It should be useful for review purposes and for students who would benefit from the more "user friendly" approach. It should satisfy the general ed high school algebra requirement.
There is another book from the same author, Barron's E-Z Calculus, also reviewed at this website. Most other books in the "E-Z" series are by different authors and lack the creativity of Downing's books.