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Between Worlds Hardcover – August 30, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Years ago, the residents of Eden Grove were encouraged to create stories around "Mystery Forest," an old aspen grove outside of town. One of the more enduring tales was that of a tree located in the exact center of the forest that would grant wishes. When Mayberry, a recent transfer student to the high school, hears of this wishing tree, she is intrigued. Her one and only friend, Marshall, a fellow social outcast with a secret crush on Mayberry, agrees to help her locate it. They find the elusive tree and jointly wish to be transported to an alien world where magic exists. This new world, Nith, is populated with fantastical creatures, many of them intent on killing the teens. The pair must use their magical abilities and wits to survive and hopefully return home. This is an inventive and fluid fantasy novel with likable characters. There is an app that readers can download for "immersive augmented reality," which allows them to delve deeper into the history of the creatures. VERDICT A good choice to hand to the younger YA crowd who might not be ready for edgier content.—Amy Nolan, St. Joseph Public Library, MI
"Teen misfits accidentally discover a portal to a dangerous fantasy world in this immersive book/app combo."--Kirkus
"This is an inventive and fluid fantasy novel with likable characters."--School Library Journal
"To enhance the reading experience, readers will be able to use their mobile devices to explore the world of Nith and interact with animated digital creatures and landscapes from the book."--VOYA
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Anyway, Mayberry and Marshall are two teens who end up stumbling upon a wishing tree in an area called Mystery Forest. There is an aspen groove which the local town council named Mystery Forest. Since so many people get lost there you gotta have a permit to get in. After falling asleep under the wishing tree, they wake up in a magical world occupied with creatures. The thing I loved most about this book is the world. The world is what makes adventure stories so fun! It was really fast paced (once it really got going) and it ended up being such a quick and fun read. I did like the writing style, but I feel like since the main characters were teens the writing was a bit too simple.
As far as the characters, I loved that they were just simply average. A lot of times with middle grade or ya, you get characters who are perfect (but they just don’t realize it if you know what I mean). However, Mayberry and Marshall were just two normal teens who had a hard time fitting in with the rest of the crowd. I think they are very relatable! Ultimately, I really enjoyed Between Worlds but it didn’t blow me away or anything. I think younger readers who are new to the fantasy genre would enjoy it a lot though. I typically lean toward more darker books so I think that’s why I had a hard time getting completely engrossed in the story. Anyways, if you are looking for a light middle grade fantasy with a cool world this one is for you!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
First off, my son isn’t a big fan of reading. In the age of near-lifelike video games and “books/games on colorful tablets,” it’s difficult to fault him completely. However, I’m from a generation that still remembers what it means to sit down with a good book and let the imagination run rampant with the words put on page. The only way to keep him engaged early on was to have superheroes in the story. Comics worked first, then stories wrapped around comics. Heck, getting him into graphic novels just to read something was the way to go for a while. This is where Between Worlds gets interesting for us.
The book uses augmented reality (which I’m told is the same tech as Pokemon Go). Much as I hate to admit it, this made my purchase decision more than anything story related. The goal, was to use that aspect in place of superheroes and hopefully get the boy reading some more. At seven, he falls below the prescribed “YA” rated audience. But a quick skim (parental duty) didn’t reveal any disagreeable content (spoiler: the protagonists kiss, which I’m sure he’ll just loooove), so I went all in and had my son make his way through the first few pages. Despite it being a somber funeral scene, he liked it! Whoa!
Then I let him see the augmented reality of the first image as a reward. HOOKED!
OK. So it’s not the parent’s dream where he picked-up and fell in love with the high-brow world of Shakespeare, Tolkien or Bradbury, but…and maybe it’s just my boy...the tech definitely keeps him immersed into the written words. He even seems to grasp the idea of delayed rewards. No augmented reality until he finishes each chapter.
And the graphics for the augmented stuff is very cool. Way more detailed than anything out there I’ve seen. It’s not all just pretty graphics, either. The characters are interactive, make little noises, and have Mayberry’s diary entries of whatever it is jumping out at you on the screen. Meaning: More reading! You won’t hear me complaining. Not one bit.
We’re still working our way through the book together so I can’t share the kiss scene reaction, but overall, I’m giving Between Worlds two thumbs up (five stars!) for a wonderful first book by Mr. Brittenham. Fun story aside, he’s helping break down some pretty high walls for kids like mine. There’s now hope my boy will one day circle back and enjoy the likes of Neil Gaiman in the comic sphere and become the geek his dad was and still is.
I hope this review was helpful to anyone on the fence about picking up a copy. If you have a kid who’s got bookphobia, titles like this will help crack that egg and give the love of reading a chance. And it’s honestly a good read even without the tech stuff!
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• Story- A solid 3.8 for me (adult male) / 4.Read more