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The Door Hardcover – April 29, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—For all of Hannah Silver's life she has lived in an old lighthouse with her mother, where she's been homeschooled. Now, Hannah is going to middle school for the first time. The only problem is, she hears voices and often responds to them out loud. She has created a language (Muffin Language) that she uses with the voices. Additionally, she often imagines traps and dangerous scenarios, especially when going down stairs. The same week that she begins school, Hannah is introduced to two new people. This is especially odd since visitors are not usually allowed in their home. She learns that these people are Watchers from the afterlife and she and her mother are Guardians. Through many generations, the Silvers have protected a door in the lighthouse that allows people to go back and forth between this world and the next. Soon after this discovery, Hannah's mother is murdered and Hannah goes through the magical door to bring her back. Marino has created an interesting fantasy filled with action and suspense. The book moves quickly and keeps readers on their toes. Hannah and her friends—both the voices in her head and those in the afterlife—are quirky and at times humorous. Though the protagonist is well developed, several of the secondary characters lack depth. While it is unlikely to fly off shelves, there is an audience for this magical and mysterious book.—Kristyn Dorfman, The Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY
Praise for Unison Spark:
"Well written, energetic, and inventive . . . this tale should appeal to fans of the current crop of dystopian fiction." -Publishers Weekly
"Marino keeps the story moving with archetypal characters, multiple and diverse settings, a lightning-fast pace, and a firm footing in teens' fascination with social networks." -Booklist
"Marino has created an interesting fantasy filled with action and suspense." -School Library Journal
"Not since the equally haunting and engrossing Half World by Hiromi Goto has there been such an intriguing look at a limbo world that awaits the dead, and what happens to a mortal girl who dares to find her own fate within it." -Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"...those with an appreciation for the strange and absurd will be left with much to dwell on." -Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Note: I received The Door from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Door by Andy Marino
Published by Scholastic Press on April 29th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Length: 288 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
For years, the door has stayed closed. Hannah Silver hardly notices it as she goes about her strange life in an isolated lighthouse. But when a pair of mysterious strangers -- a boy and his guardian -- show up at the lighthouse, things start to go very wrong. Hannah's life is shattered. And the door is now wide open.
In order to save herself and her family, Hannah must walk through this door.
Into another world.
A world where she doesn't belong.
A world that wants to capture her and make sure she never makes it back home.
Cities in the afterlife seems to be a trend and The Door presents a pretty interesting middle-grade spin on the idea. The mysterious door in the lighthouse and guardians of said door were all intriguing and fun to get pulled into and then we find out that in order to progress through limbo, residents of this city work to perform some amazing and unique achievement, such as painting the most amazing painting or inventing glass controlled by nanotechnology. Very cool!
The writing of The Door is light and fast, as I typically expect from middle-grade. I enjoyed the descriptions of the city and its denizens since they evoked some really beautiful scenes.
The Door presents a magic system that is assumed to be very advanced technology or technology that conforms to different rules than our world and I had one particular favorite: 3D paint! The artists in this afterworld are able to paint with special material that leads to their paintings being literally 3D objects, but with a painting of that object superimposed. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but so fun to read about!
I wasn’t really sure how my relationship with The Door was going to end up until the end. Just because you put “The End” and no more words, does not an ending make! If you need closure of any kind at the end of a story, this is so not the book for you.
The last bit of The Door was also incredibly anti-climactic. It fell into that horrendous trap of a solution magically presenting itself that makes everything that happened pointless. The fun of middle-grade is for children to be empowered and go on adventures! When the MC doesn’t end up actually doing anything, it’s a bit disappointing.
All the things that interested me at the beginning of The Door (Hannah’s apparent mental disability, her relationship with her mother, the dynamics of this afterlife city) are left completely unanswered and unaddressed. Worse yet, Hannah’s mental disability is basically cured as soon as The Door gets rolling and its source is never explored.
The adults and villains in The Door are completely flat and dull. I could practically see the mustache-twirling baddies and parents who just want to ruin all the fun for the kids. I expect better even from middle-grade.
The Door had promise but failed to pursue any of the interesting aspects of the premise. It fell into all the typical problems with middle-grade that make people not interested in this genre and that disappoints me quite a bit. I’m still rather flabbergasted at whatever those last 20 pages were supposed to be and you seriously should have seen my expression when I got to the “end” ;-). I’m sad to say that The Door just doesn’t represent middle-grade fantasy well at all.
This story is so much more strange and magical than you would ever expect. Just look at that cover. Read the synopsis. Sounds a bit droll, right? It is anything but!
The protagonist, Hannah Silver, is quite likable and endearing. She's a strange girl who lives in a lighthouse with her oddly paranoid mother. Just when Hannah thinks she's going to be a normal girl and go to school and make friends and everything, her mother is murdered right outside her own house!
Hannah embarks on a journey to the land of the dead to find her mother, who was murdered by a boy that she thought was her friend. The dead city is a massive, sprawling metropolis of oddities. There Hannah befriends Stefen, a quirky painter-boy, comes face-to-face with her imaginary friends Belinda and Nancy, and must avoid the scary Watchers who want to capture and imprison her.
The dead city is more magical than I have words to describe. Take, for example, this scene: "Stefan was at her side, paintbrush sparkling with a dab of digitally enhanced skin from Charlemagne, who slunk about the floor with an arched back like a jungle cat poised for battle." I smiled when I read it, because I could so very easily picture the feisty Charlemagne, who happens to be a chameleon, acting like a jungle cat. This is just one of pages and pages of lovely, yet weird, images that readers will enjoy.
At just about 300 pages long, THE DOOR is a self-contained epic of a story. It could easily have been much longer - Hannah goes through so much, makes such important friendships, and ventures into so many new places. The fact that it is all contained in one little book is simply incredible.
Teen and Middle Grade fans of Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket, and the ABARAT series will very much enjoy this book. However, the target audience is definitely younger readers looking for a story filled with magic and wonder and adventure.