Monday, January 24, 2011

This Dashner Dude Has Potential, Methinks

(Image from Indiebound)

Atticus "Tick" Higginbottom has always lived a fairly ordinary existence, until one day, it takes a turn for the super strange. When the 13-year-old receives a mysterious letter in the mail, he's sure it's a joke. Except that something about the cryptic message seems almost ... familiar. And yet, it makes no sense at all. Nor do all the strange things that are suddenly happening to Tick. Or the funny people he encounters in the woods outside his home. The more clues he gets, the more anxious he feels - some crazy, catastrophic event is coming and he still can't figure out what it is or how he's supposed to prevent it from happening.

When Tick sends out a plea on the Internet, he finds two other kids who are also receiving confusing messages. Together, they piece together a very odd story, one that involves alternate realities, a greedy bald lady, time travel, and even more confounding clues. Only one thing is clear: life as they know it will be altered forever unless Tick and his friends can figure out how to stop a powerful villain. But that will require courage. And cunning. Tick can't even stand up to the kids who bully him at school. How can a kid like him be expected to save the world?
Although James Dashner may be most well-known for his YA dystopian novels (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials), he began his career writing middle grade fantasy. The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters is the first book he published nationally, and the beginning of what promises to be an intriguing series. Although the story crawls along at times, it is, for the most part, an exciting adventure that will appeal to both boys and girls. The writing's so-so, but there's enough mystery and humor to keep children engaged. Like I mentioned, though, it does drag in places - by the time we hit about Page 300, my kids were bored with the whole thing. Neither one wanted me to finish reading the book to them. I ended up reading the finale on my own. Although the book could definitely use some slimming down, I enjoyed it for the most part. The sequels don't hold any interest for my kids, but I'll be checking them out. This Dashner dude has potential, methinks.
(Readalikes: Other than the other books in the series, I'm not sure what to compare the book to. Any suggestions?)
Grade: C
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for fantasy violence
To the FTC, with love: I bought The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters using a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.

4 comments:

  1. If you are in the area, James Dashner will be the Guest of Honor at Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE) the Sci-Fi Symposium at BYU. Dates are Feb. 17-19. Lots of panels for writers, artists, and Sci-Fi fans. If you want more info check out their website www.ltue.org or their facebook page.

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  2. Sorry, it's a Sci-Fi/ Fantasy symposium, not just Sci-Fi.

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  3. I've heard about it, would love to go, but unfortunately, I no longer live in the Provo area :( If some publisher was willing to fly me in and pay all my expenses, that would be a different story ... hint, hint :)

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  4. My son in law really liked the 13th Reality and asked me to bring home more books from the series. We didn't have any others in the library. So, he said bring me something you think I would like. I brought him Maze Runner and Scorch Trials, having NO IDEA they were written by the same person. He liked those two also.

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