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James Dashner – The Journal of Curious Letters

April 6, 2008

43. The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner (2008)
The 13th Reality, Book 1

Length: 434 pages

Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Started: 06 April 2008
Finished: 06 April 2008

Summary: Atticus “Tick” Higgenbottom is an unpopular thirteen-year-old nerd whose life changes when he receives a mysterious letter signed only with the initials “M. G.” warning of danger and darkness but promising him the chance to help save the world – all the worlds – and the people in them. Further letters come, each bearing a clue that Tick must decipher if he is to determine exactly what he needs to do to prevent disaster.

Review: I’m a devoted reader of young-adult fantasy, and a firm believer that adults can get something out of these books as well – all of those people passing on Harry Potter or His Dark Materials or a number of other similar titles just because they’re “kid’s books” just make me sadly shake my head… it’s their loss, I guess. However, I think I need to revise my opinion to say that I’m a firm believer that adults can get something out of most of these books – The Journal of Curious Letters being an exception. It’s aimed at a slightly younger age bracket than I thought when I picked it up (9-10 year olds vs. 13-15 year olds), and it shows – the plot is straightforward, the scary parts are not particularly scary, the clues are overly simple for an adult reader, and the potentially interesting parts, the metaphysical (or meta-quantum-physical, if you will) construction of the Realities, are explained without any depth, and too quickly to even entirely make sense. This book is an interesting blend of puzzle book and adventure story, but while the message is one we’ve heard before (the power of choice and the choice between what is easy and what is right… sound familiar?), the execution was just not meaty enough to ever get me involved in the story. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Youngish fantasy fans will probably enjoy it, but if you’re older than twelve and looking for the next Harry Potter, unfortunately it’s not here.

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First Line: Norbert Johnson had never met such strange people in all of his life, much less two on the same day – within the same hour even.

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