From School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-There's a pretty good story at the center of this novel. Twelve-year-old Tommy Pepper, his little sister, and their father are struggling through the grief of his mother's sudden death. Tommy and his mother parted on bad terms that terrible day, and he feels that her anger precipitated her car accident on an icy road. Patty has not spoken since. The family is also resisting the attempts of an unscrupulous developer to oust them from their beloved house in Plymouth, Massachusetts, so she can build waterfront condominiums. That's plenty of fodder for an absorbing plot. But Schmidt has wrapped Tommy's story inside an unsuccessful sci-fi fantasy. On a distant planet, evil, duplicitous beings have nearly conquered the good guys. In desperation, one of the heroic types makes a Chain out of the Art of his civilization and launches it into space, and it falls into Tommy's lunch box. All well and good, except that readers have no idea what the planet looks like or what normal life consists of there. The language in this part of the book is ponderous; for example, "Not a one of the Valorim did not weep for what would be lost together." Readers need to plow through pages of impenetrable prose before they meet Tommy. And every time they get swept into his story, it's brought to a halt. Schmidt is an accomplished, talented author who excels at creating characters dealing with tricky moral dilemmas. He has taken a risk in attempting to write in a new genre, but it's a risk that did not pan out this time.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
“Schmidt brings high heroic fantasy and contemporary realism together in this novel.”—Horn Book,
“Spielberg, get ready for this boldly imagined outer-space offering.”—Kirkus
“Schmidt, already a best-seller and award winner, should pick up even more fans with this crowd-pleasing fantasy.”—Booklist
“Wonderfully strange. . . . This inventive and memorable story for readers ages 10-15 manages to mingle the quotidian and the movingly supernatural. It's funny, too.”—The Wall Street Journal
"The balance of emotions is flawless."—Bulletin