by John Stephens
Reading Grade: Middle Grade
Publishing Type: traditional
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Source: local library (hardcover)
Age Rating: 13+ (a bit of violence)
John Stephens' aptly-titled new fantasy trilogy begins auspiciously with a nimble, fast-paced tale of three siblings. Kate, Michael, and Emma have suffered through ten years of odious orphanage "care"; now they have slipped into the care of the eccentric, disturbingly mysterious Dr. Pym. While exploring their new home, the children discover a magical green book. With that discovery, a decade of tedium dissolves into cascades of dangerous time travel adventures and struggles with a beautiful witch and decidedly less attractive zombie-like Screechers.
I decided to read this book because it has been getting a lot of hype since it was published. People have been claiming it's going to be the next 'Harry Potter' series, but I won't make comparisons to Harry Potter. It is a high fantasy type of book that deals with time-travel and all the interesting things that can change, and how dangerous that power is in the wrong hands.
There are an abundance of fantasy characters, like dwarves, witches, zombie-like ghouls, ferocious monsters, and lots of battling going on with plenty of the need for the main characters to save the world from total ruination. The characters are well-drawn up and very exaggerated, which I like. My favorites were Dr. Pym, Michael, Emma, and the witch's Secretary. There are lots of funny and entertaining characters here, even if Kate, the main character, isn't as interesting as the rest.
The premise is fascinating, in that there are these three books and they were all written by ancient wizards long ago about the magic of the universe. They all possess great power and the one that is the subject of this volume is the Altas. It is the book that allows for passage through time and space, giving that traveler immense power to manipulate any point in time. Of course, an evil character wants the book, so the children have to stop this character from succeeding with the help of the old, eccentric Dr. Pym.
It would be best suited for younger teenagers—not elementary school-aged children. There is a bit of violence and even a little light cursing, so I'd recommend it for middle school kids and older. Although, I'm not the in target audience for this book, I think it would be a big hit with those who love reading Middle Grade adventure/fantasy fiction. I look forward to the next installment in the series. There is still much the children need to accomplish, and I need more of that capital fellow, Dr. Pym.
My score: 4 out of 5 stars.