The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Emerald AtlasKate, 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 prophecy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right. (Amazon.ca)

I thought this was going to be a light read filled with magic and other kinds of happy excitement. It actually was the reverse. It’s a bit darker than usual Middle Grade fiction, and it’s not as happy as I thought. However, it was still a decent read and worth the time spent.

The plot was quite detailed for a book that is targeted for a younger age group. It’s an interesting mix of several genres all in one. The time traveling aspect with photos is really interesting and I thought that was unique. The journey the three main characters undertake is also well done and fun to read. The setting is written in great detail, and it is evident there is a lot of effort and work placed in making this setting different.

The three characters have their own distinct personality. Kate is the eldest, who has way too much on her shoulders and I’m surprised she hasn’t keeled under all the pressure throughout the book – which is admirable, she’s extremely strong mentally and is a very protective towards her two younger siblings. Michael was a fun character to read, with his obsession with dwarves, I liked how he developed throughout the book. Emma was my favorite character though. She was the one with the punch, and the spark that kept this novel going. I loved her personality! she was the one with the memorable quotes and put downs, and she didn’t seem to be afraid of anything – although sometimes she did let things get to her head. She’s just as strong as Kate, however she doesn’t have a lot on her shoulders or enough to worry about – at least it doesn’t seem to bother her if she is faced with a situation. I’m not sure what to say about Dr Pym. I think I’d have to wait until the rest of the series pans out to get a proper opinion. I did take a liking to Gabriel though! he was a such a great character and provided the strong silent archetype in this book. (There seems to be a lot of archetypes in this novel, by the way).

It’s a long book, and sometimes the details in the book does slow the pace down. Although the time traveling idea was fun, how it was explained, and the consequences of it doesn’t seem to effect the characters or the storyline. Suddenly through the second half of the book, the plot seems to be extremely confusing and there seemed to be so many twists and turns through time that you can’t think straight and it feels like one jumbled mess. This is definitely a book meant to be slowly, for lack of a better term, ‘digested’ in order to get the main point across. There is just so much information to take in, that by the end of the book you’re still wondering if you really got the main idea. Or not. Another thing that bugged me were some of the characters just disappear and you don’t read up on them at the end. So what became of them? perhaps that question will be answered in the next book. (I hope so!)

I’d say this book is what you would call an adventure of epic proportions. It’s certainly not a light read, but one meant to be read slowly to take in the massive amounts of information, twists and turns through time, and all the action and adventure. Although a ‘heavy’ read, it’s still worth it and it was a great adventure with lots more to come.

I give it a 6/10

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