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The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning) Paperback – April 24, 2012
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"Rich with wonder and personality, The Emerald Atlas is a terrific read. I wholeheartedly recommend it, and look forward to more." -- Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fablehaven and Beyonders
Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2011:
"Unfolding magic and secrets deepen the story and build excitement as it reaches its complex and time-bending climax....Echoes of other popular fantasy series, from “Harry Potter” to the “Narnia” books, are easily found, but debut author Stephens has created a new and appealing read that will leave readers looking forward to the next volumes in this projected trilogy."
Publishers Weekly, January 18, 2011:
"This fast-paced, fully imagined fantasy is by turns frightening and funny, and the siblings are well-crafted and empathetic heroes. Highly enjoyable, it should find many readers."
The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2011:
"[A] great story is all in the telling, and in 'The Emerald Atlas' the telling is superb...First-time novelist John Stephens has created a vicarious adventure for children ages 9-15—the first in a trilogy—filled with unexpected twists and marvelously distinct and vivid characters."
BookPage, April 2, 2011:
"With magic, humor and unforgettable characters, John Stephens’ remarkable debut novel follows Kate, Michael and Emma as they attempt to outwit the Countess, rescue the children and maybe even save the world in the process. Unanswered questions and two more books to locate ensure a sequel and more robust adventures ahead."
Realms of Fantasy, April 2011:
“Ambitious, entertaining, magical, and whimsical, this marks a strong beginning to a new trilogy, invoking just a little Harry Potter and Series of Unfortunate Events along the way.”
Booklist, March 15, 2011:
“Fast-paced and engaging, with plenty of action, humor, and secrets propelling the plot. . . . Themes of family and responsibility . . . will easily resonate with young readers.”
Kirkus, March 15, 2011:
“Each character has such a likable voice that the elaborate story doesn’t feel overcomplicated. . . . The only gripe readers might initially have is with its length, but by the end, they’ll immediately wish it was longer.”
Library Media Connection, May / June 2011:
“A rollicking fantasy filled with shiver-inspiring evil creatures and quiet heroes. The feisty sisters and the intellectual brother will win the hearts of readers of all ages.”
CrackingTheCover.com, April 5, 2011:
"“Creativity and wit abound in 'The Emerald Atlas.' Author John Stephens could have easily fallen into the trap of building on someone else’s ideas. But he doesn’t.
Stephens doesn’t write down to his readers. Rather he offers a sophisticated narrative that will appeal to children and adults alike. It’s clear he had fun writing and that 'The Emerald Atlas' was painstakingly thought out.”
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
John Stephens is also the author of The Fire Chronicle, the second installment in the Books of Beginning trilogy. John received his MFA from the University of Virginia, and went on to write and produce television for ten years. During this time, he read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and fell in love with fantasy for young readers. He spent the next several years waking at 4 AM every morning to write The Emerald Atlas before heading to work for the day.
John lives in Los Angeles with his wife and sons and their dog, Bug. Visit BooksofBeginning.com to find out more about The Emerald Atlas, the Books of Beginning, and John.
Top customer reviews
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The prologue was mysterious and chilling, the children's characters instantly likeable, and the whole story suspenseful. For his first attempt, John Stevens did a phenomenal job. His writing style is perfectly balanced and he thought through his plot and its mechanics very well. I'm not sure what the age recommendation is on this book...it doesn't really need one. I'm 18, but I stil check the children's section for decent (if sometimes light) reading. This was much better than the stuff they publish as YA literature.
The best way I can describe The Emerald Atlas is to compare it to the Narnia series and The Lord of the Rings - but not that Stevens is merely rehashing what has been done before...Atlas is completely original, while having the same elements that make Narnia and LOTR so popular. If you are a fan of good fantasy books, Atlas is perfect for you. Atlas is full of humor, donuts, adventure, time travel, friendship, and horror (although not too much, just enough to give you chills every once in a while).
The beginning may start a little slowly for some readers, but once you are past the first five chapters - and arrive at Prof. Pym's "orphanage" - you are comepletely with the story. By the time Gabriel enters, you can't put the book down, not that you would want to. By the end, you have no idea what will happen, and the last chapter is probably the best of all...
Hurray for Kate, Michael, and Emma! Hurray for Professor Pym and the dwarves! And, of course, hurray for donuts!
Bumping it up to the full 5 stars, because my kid is now counting down the days until The Black Reckoning is released. (and I'm looking forward to reading it, too. Ha!)
Here's how my 10 year old kid put it, which is kind of perfect:
"The main characters don't actually DO anything. Everything just sort of happens TO them."
I understand that this is children's literature, and I wouldn't give it only 2 stars if my own kid hadn't rendered the judgment and articulated the main problem himself (he's almost at the end, but only reading about 10 pages a night...with better books he reads about 100 pages a day).
It's action-packed, for sure, but hollow. It's only mildly endearing and slightly entertaining.
It definitely ain't no new Narnia or LOTR.
Not even close.
Edit: Adding another couple of stars because my kid wants Fire Chronicle over all other potential toys/presents. He wants the Fire Chronicle more than he wants LED lights for his bike tires, etc.
Maybe you have to be a kid to get this book series.
Three children, ten years, too many ophanages to count. What wonders will they discover? Why did their parents abandon them? Will they ever see mom and dad again?
This book is written in a manner that young readers will understand. The language and words will be easily understood. The story has enough twists and turns to hold the readers attention andkeep them reading. There were times when the story seemed to wander, as Kate thought about things.
John Stephens always wanted to write books for children. In this book, he has succeeded. He has not only written abook for children, but he has written a book that could become a childrens classic.
I can easily recommend this book to children and teens. It may be the book that gets them hooked on reading. I will be reading more of this authors books.
While some young readers may be turned off by the filler after the prologue that establishes the characters and serves as plot exposition, if they know where this is headed, they will hang in there. I was reminded a little of C.S. Lewis, but I found John Stephens writing style far more approachable and inviting. The world he's created is original and fascinating. It includes dwarves, elves, witches, wizards and a few creations of his own, like Screechers, which are deliciously scary. It combines a lot of my favorite themes magic and prophesies -and perhaps the best damned explanation of time travel I've ever read.
John Stephens' characters, though slightly archetypal in nature, are warm and interesting. It is obvious the children are strongly bonded and self-reliant. It's heart breaking that Kate, the oldest sister, has become a mother figure to her siblings. You can just feel the girls' frustration with their dwarf obsessed brother, Michael, and the stress caused by Emma's thirst to prove, to herself and everyone else, that she can take care of herself, even if she is the youngest. Though there may occasionally be some dissention in the ranks they marshal around her and keep close. They may not have had an easy life, being bounced from orphanage to orphanage, but it seems to have prepared them for what lies ahead. I love the way these characters are written.
It is obvious that Mr. Stephens writes for television; his story plays out in scenes and the reader often doesn't get to connect deeply with the character, especially when points of view shift. However, connections are forged anyway because the characters are so strong -you know them. As the series progresses, it would be wonderful to see him develop a relationship with his characters.
John Stephens' The Emerald Atlas doesn't disappoint. Though sufficient closure was reached, there are still many questions left unanswered and I can't wait to read the rest of this series to find out more. I bought and read this as an e-book and have already ordered my hard cover copy because this one is a definite keeper.
Most recent customer reviews
Fun. The characters were a tad annoying at times (oh, you really expect the bad guy to tell the truth? Do you have to pick a fight right NOW?Read more