77 of 81 people found the following review helpful.
The story is about the love of family, faith, and magic. The three main characters are siblings who have been taken from their parents ten years ago, forced to grow up in one orphanage after another, until finally ending up in an old mansion owned by a mysterious old man. Before they meet the old man, the children explore the house until they come upon a door that magically appears, leading fourteen Kate, and her twelve year old brother Michael, along with feisty eleven year old Emma, into a laboratory of sorts. There they find a mysterious green leather book with filled with blank pages. When Michael, who chronicles their lives in his journal, drops a picture onto one of the blank pages, the children are transported through time, finding themselves watching in horror as a beautiful witch threatens to drop a child into a lake.
I loved the back-story of how magic left the land, along with some real history thrown in for good measure. Stephens does a great job of adding depth to the story and for making believable and unforgettable characters.
Set in modern times yet full of magic, the Emerald Atlas is non-stop action with lessons of loyalty, love and the importance of family woven masterfully into a tale that kids of all ages will find hard to put down. Like Harry Potter, the Emerald Atlas can be read by children and adults alike. There is nothing in the book that you couldn’t read to a young child and still find enjoyable yourself.
Stephens’ triology starts off with such promise. I will be eagerly awaiting book two. I hope he writes quickly.
79 of 87 people found the following review helpful.
“The Emerald Atlas” is book 1 of the Books of Beginning, a new young adult fantasy series by John Stephens. The book centers on three children, Kate, Michael and Emma who on Christmas Eve are spirited away from their parents when they’re very young for safe keeping from unexplained dark forces. Kate being the oldest is the trio’s leader and has vowed to keep watch over her younger brother and sister. Michael is the nerdy, bookworm middle child who is obsessed with dwarves. Emma is the baby of the three but is brash, brave and outspoken. The children have spent the majority of their youth bouncing from orphanage to orphanage. As they continuously long for their parents return, Kate, Michael and Emma eventually find themselves at a secluded small town orphanage in a mountainous mansion. They quickly discover they’re the only children there and eagerly begin to search out answers as to why. When they accidentally stumble across a strange green book that allows them to magically travel back and forth through time by using photos their real adventure begins. Here are my thoughts on The Emerald Atlas;
+ Plenty of colorful and interesting characters that will appeal and resonate with young readers. The dwarves were actually my favorite even if they were stereotypical.
+ Three main characters will be easy for children to identify with.
+ Great cover art.
- Time travel aspects and ideas could be too confusing for young readers.
- Lacks originality and borrows from other fantasy stories such as Narnia, Golden Compass, Lord of the Rings etc.
- Although realistic, Emma and Michael’s bickering becomes tiresome.
- Majority of the characters are generally stereotypical.
- No Map (Ironic considering it’s called the Emerald Atlas). A map of the island/town would have been nice and especially helpful for young readers.
- A few references to murder and killing that struck an odd chord with me given the intended audience. The one instance that really stuck out to me was when Michael and Emma were arguing about which of them a killer would murder first based on who was more annoying. The sequence made me chuckle but some may not find it amusing.
Occasionally amusing and sometimes confusing, The Emerald Atlas was an enjoyable yet cliché young adult fantasy novel. I wouldn’t put it on the same level as Narnia or the Golden Compass but more along the lines of Spiderwick Chronicles, Inkheart or Lemony Snickets. While the story is often predictable and unoriginal it still made for an interesting read. The story moves along quickly and is never really dull, which is great for the younger short attention span. The middle reader audience for which the book is intended will more than likely enjoy it. I know I probably would have at that age.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful.
The other strength of this novel is the language which is witty and funny. At times, the language does get overly descriptive which makes it tedious and lumbering, but on the whole, the story is engaging and fun and should appeal to young adults who love a good fantasy read.