Sunday, December 11, 2011
The Emerald Atlas
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens is the first book of the eventual Books of Beginning trilogy. It's also my current staff pick at Left Bank Books.
The most immediate comparisons this book will draw are with other normal-children-discover-magic books like Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia; the Ps (no last name, just an initial) have stumbled into a parallel world with a complex history and mythology they must learn on the fly. Of course, they also happen to be the only ones who can save it, so their amazement at their surroundings is always cut short by the urgent need to act. Here, however, is a surefire sure for readers who complain that boys have all the fun in this genre. Each sibling has his or her own distinct personality and interests, each of which is allowed to shine when they are separated for a hefty chunk of the narrative. The plot is extremely intricate and involved. Any one of the obstacles faced by the children could have served as its own book if Stephens had preferred. Instead, there is non-stop action, sometimes in multiple locations simultaneously. While there is no gratuitously graphic violence, things can get scary. I know I found myself horrified (in a good way) more than once. Adventure and fantasy fans are sure to love this book. Now, to wait for Book Two!
The Emerald Atlas is published by Knopf Books for Young Readers and retails for $17.99. I got my Advance Reader Copy from the publisher (although this review was neither solicited nor compensated). You can get yours from Left Bank Books today!