Monday, July 11, 2011

Jenn's Review: Emerald Atlas

The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning)Summary:  Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.

Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.

Until now.

Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.

The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world. ~product description

Review:  I wanted to read The Emerald Atlas before I started to hear all the buzz about it, the buzz only moved it closer to the top of my list. Though the comparison to Harry Potter made by some reviewers is a little ostentatious, I found this to be a fabulous fantasy book for Middle Grade on up.

While some young readers may be turned off by the filler after the prologue that establishes the characters and serves as plot exposition, if they know where this is headed, they will hang in there. I was reminded a little of C.S. Lewis, but I found John Stephens writing style far more approachable and inviting. The world he’s created is original and fascinating. It includes dwarves, elves, witches, wizards and a few creations of his own, like Screechers, which are deliciously scary. It combines a lot of my favorite themes magic and prophesies –and perhaps the best damned explanation of time travel I’ve ever read.

John Stephens’ characters, though slightly archetypal in nature, are warm and interesting. It is obvious the children are strongly bonded and self-reliant. It’s heart breaking that Kate, the oldest sister, has become a mother figure to her siblings. You can just feel the girls’ frustration with their dwarf obsessed brother, Michael, and the stress caused by Emma’s thirst to prove, to herself and everyone else, that she can take care of herself, even if she is the youngest. Though there may occasionally be some dissention in the ranks they marshal around her and keep close. They may not have had an easy life, being bounced from orphanage to orphanage, but it seems to have prepared them for what lies ahead. I love the way these characters are written.  

It is obvious that Mr. Stephens writes for television; his story plays out in scenes and the reader often doesn’t get to connect deeply with the character, especially when points of view shift. However, connections are forged anyway because the characters are so strong  
you know them.  As the series progresses, it would be wonderful to see him develop a relationship with his characters.
John Stephens' The Emerald Atlas doesn't disappoint. Though sufficient closure was reached, there are still many questions left unanswered and I can’t wait to read the rest of this series to find out more. I bought and read this as an e-book and have already ordered my hard cover copy because this one is a definite keeper.

Don’t take my word for it though. Check it out for yourself.   Read the first chapter.

Final Take: 4.25/5


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