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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 7, 2011
Nina Kiriki Hoffman wrote one of my most favorite books ever (THE THREAD THAT BINDS THE BONES) and from then on she couldn't do wrong by me. She's one of those authors whose novels I purchase just because her name's on the cover, and there are only select authors who I think merit that sort of devotion (Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Terry Pratchett, Tim Powers, Roger Zelazny, Dick Francis). Nina Kiriki Hoffman's MEETING is the second book in her Magic Next Door series; it's the sequel to THRESHOLDS. It's one of them YA or even middle school reads. Don't let that stop you even if you're a full-time grown up. You'll only miss out on Hoffman's remarkable craftsmanship and that delicate sense of wonder she infuses into her stories.

THRESHOLDS introduced us to twelve-year-old Maya Andersen whose family had just moved to Spores Ferry, Oregon. Maya was still grieving the loss of her best friend Stephanie who had finally succumbed to cancer. The decision to relocate the fam was in part to give Maya a fresh start. In Spores Ferry, Maya befriended the strange kids living next door, in the reclusive Janus House Apartments. In Spores Ferry, Maya discovered magic and the possibility of alien worlds (Janus House's basement boasts an intergalactic portal). She's also had an alien egg embedded in her wrist which then hatched, giving birth to Rimi, an alien, specifically a sissimi. Rimi and Maya are bonded now and inseparable best friends, the high-spirited and very curious Rimi having taken on the aspect of Maya's shadow. It's cute that Rimi loves to taste everything and she loves sharing the taste with Maya. Sometimes Rimi will sample something from the garbage. Maya's not down with that.

As MEETING opens, six weeks or so have elapsed since the events in THRESHOLDS. The odd inhabitants of the Janus House Apartments have loosened up enough that they and the Andersens now regularly get together for Music Night (Janus House can harmonize like a mother). Having inadvertently fallen into a world of weirdness, Maya now juggles regular school and piano lessons with attending Janus House three days a week for even more lessons, these having to do with her learning about magic and also learning more about her sissimi Rimi. Janus House clings to its privacy. A magical geas prevents Maya from accidentally blurting out secrets about Janus House. Maya's reticence frustrates the heck out of her younger brother (who'd seen Maya do some very weird stuff since the big move) and her older sister who is just tremendously nosy.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman weaves an enchanting tapestry of magic, mystery, and every-day normality. She lures you effortlessly into the life of a wounded young girl coming into her own. Hoffman again introduces one of her go-to themes, the flowering of an unexpected friendship. Maya still gets that sad twinge whenever she thinks of Stephanie, and there's a sad irony in that Stephanie had always been the one who had longed for magic. Magical people have entered Maya's life, some friendly, some shady. Except that one thing you should know about Nina Kiriki Hoffman is that she messes around with stereotypes. In her stories, enemies hardly ever stay enemies. But, then again, it'll be a challenge for her to reconcile the Krithi - the sinister alien race what stole Rimi from her home world in the first place.

There's a captivating day-in-the-life vibe here, and, in tone and pace, it vividly recalls Hayao Miyazaki's films (SPIRITED AWAY, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE). What I like best about Hoffman's stories is that she peppers in these wonderful little moments of self-discovery, of self-empowerment. The dramatic conflicts tend to be more personal rather than epic or world-threatening in nature. The inhabitants of Janus House choose their careers early in life. Maya, at twelve years old, is already an exceptional artist. Her knack for capturing images on paper, coupled with Rimi's ever expanding abilities, draws the interest of Columba, Janus House's security officer. "Join my force," she entreats Maya. "We have cake." But Maya isn't sure she wants to be a spy. I'll tell you, I was so into the story that I was a bit shocked when I realized that there were only a few pages left. It was over before I knew it, ending rather abruptly as Maya and her friends trick or treat on Halloween. Even if the final chapter does give us a melancholy bit of closure. The good news is that it definitely feels like there's a third book coming.
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on September 6, 2011
When Nina Kiriki Hoffman started this series I was happy & sad. Happy because I am a fan of hers and of YA books. Sad because I knew she wouldn't be writing adult books while doing these (selfish, I know). The first in this series was a little light on content, but the second one is a much more solid book.
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on September 27, 2012
Ever since I read The Thread That Binds the Bones, I have been in love with Nina Kiriki Hoffman's work. In fact, I have bought numerous copies of that book so that I could give it to friends. I had a long wait before she started publishing books in that genre again--but it was well worth it. I agree with another reviewer who said that you should "do yourself a favor and read all of her books". I enjoy reading her books multiple times. They are fun. I enjoy believing that magic can exist everywhere. Thank you, Ms. Hoffman!
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on August 16, 2011
Do yourself a big favor and buy and read Thresholds (Magic Next Door) and then this book. Lucky Maya just happens to move next door to a secret clan of people who practice magic (my neighbor makes a mean gazpacho but it can't compare). Some of that magic rubs off on Maya and her adventures are nothing short of spectacular. So, the next time you see a kid sitting by herself in the lunch room, you just might want to befriend her and let some magic happen. I would now buy any book if Nina Kiriki Hoffman is the author!
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on October 5, 2011
As in previous works by Nina, we find ourselves immersed in a totally new reality with characters who become familiar friends in a matter of paragraphs. Nina's scrupulous attention to detail and her brilliant and vivid imagination propel us forward breathlessly as we see what happens next! This is part 2 of a trilogy -- now I can't wait for the final book!
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on October 7, 2014
I really like all this authors work
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on September 11, 2014
It started out as an awesome book, well written and compelling, and I would have given it 5 stars. But then it didn't end! The book ended before the plot! AAAAAAAH! I hate when books do that. It's like the author could't think of a solution to the various mysteries she introduced into the plot, so she just said "oh well, that should be good enough" and ended the book right there. So I read the sequel, and the same thing happened! STILL no plot resolution. Maybe the series is supposed to continue? IDK, there are no more sequels as of now...such a disappointment!
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on May 21, 2015
Great book, great price, and I received it super fast. Thanks.
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