From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Twelve-year-old Chloe lives with scars on her face and neck caused by an accident with one of her father's inventions, and she is constantly aware of them: at school, where she is called Scarface, and at home, which is full of her anger and her father's guilt. When she meets Nick, a blind boy who writes a movie script about a fantasyland called Retinya, they begin to work on the story together. In the projection box of her family's movie theater, Chloe and Nick are magically transported to the world they've created and find themselves engaged in a struggle against the evil spirit Vaepor, who wipes away people's memories, leaving them in his thrall. Nick quickly disappears, and Chloe is left to puzzle her own way through this dangerous and confusing world as she searches for him and follows enigmatic clues in order to defeat Vaepor. Friesen has created some compelling characters and settings, but the story line begins to wander much like Chloe herself. Ultimately, the world of Retinya does not fully come alive. It remains as confusing to readers as it is to Chloe, and the device of having her as a coinventor of the world along with Nick is not followed through consistently enough to be successful. Strictly an additional purchase.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Metaphorical to the max, this begins with two damaged teens forming an entertainingly contentious bond as they work on a screenplay featuring a magic land. Then the story turns suddenly into a therapeutic quest fantasy set in that elaborately imagined world. Chloe, physically and psychologically scarred after a childhood accident, is both repelled by and drawn to blind, epileptic, and very angry Nick, who has created a country called Retinya where he can see. After a bitter fight in the projection booth of Chloe’s family’s movie house, Nick finds that he can crawl into the horror film that is showing. When Chloe follows, she finds herself in a darker version of Retinya, where she is charged with rescuing Nick and the other inhabitants from having their memories expunged. Chloe ultimately triumphs over both a monster and her own anger issues with help from a colorful supporting cast that has parallels in both worlds. Though reduced to a secondary character in Retinya, Nick also comes away with a measure of inner peace that lessens the impact of a tragedy that closes this somewhat contrived but action-filled adventure. Grades 5-8. --John Peters