Thursday, April 21, 2011

Engaging Emerald

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
This was such a great book, it gets a definite 5 gnomes out of 5 gnomes.  Towards the end of the book I stayed up until after one in the morning so I could finish reading it because towards the end it's hard to tell whether the ending will go well or horribly for the characters.  This story feels like a grand mix of the Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events books with the best things about both series combined.  This looks to be a very promising new series and I know I can't wait to read the next one.

The story starts with an unknown danger as parents have their three children whisked away from the only home they've ever known.  All the children are left with to remember their parents is a promise to Kate, the oldest child, from her mother that they all will be together again someday and a one consonant last name, P.

The plot of the story picks up again ten years later at an orphanage.  The three siblings have been to a lot of orphanages and have heard nothing from their parents, so they have only themselves to rely on.  Kate is the one who gives her brother and sister hope about their parents and she's the one who has the best memory of them.  Michael, the middle child, is awkward and gets picked on.  The only thing he has to remember their parents by is a book about dwarves.  The youngest child, Emma, doesn't remember her parents at all and only has Kate and Michael to rely on.  She is really tough though and will stand up to anybody.

Emma is my favorite character because when we first meet her she has a kid cornered in a tree and is trying to throw rocks at him because he tore one of her books.  She's a little outspoken but is truly a fun character to read about because you see her vulnerable as well as her tough side throughout the story.

They are sent to an orphanage in a town that has seen better days and the house they are staying in is pretty dank and foreboding.  There is a mystery to solve once they find a strange book.  The book, the house and the town are all full of secrets and have a tragic past.

The big bad in this story is truly bad and looks like it might be an unconquerable force and then you find out that this bad guy has an even worse boss.  On the other side is the main ally of the children, Dr. Pym, who knows many secrets but just isn't very keen on sharing any of them most of the time.  One thing that bugged me was how little Dr. Pym told the children at first, hopefully he's more forthcoming in the future.  

Overall this is a story full of questions, magic, and a mystery about what could happen next.  It has a little bit of everything and there's something to like about each of the characters because they are not inherently good or bad, there is some gray area in their characterizations.  The ending of the book is great and will leave you wondering what will happen in the next chapter of these character's lives.

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