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The Journal of Curious Letters (Book One of The 13th Reality Series) Hardcover – March 3, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters (Shadow Mountain, 978-1-59038-831-0) accesses mind-boggling notions from quantum physics (kyoopy as Mothball calls it) and comes up with a tree called Prime Reality, with twelve branches, or alternate realties, or versions of Prime, growing off it. Master George and Mistress Jane both have instruments that make travel between the realities possible, but only one of them supports diversity. Mistress Jane believes that the world would be a much better place if it were all yellow, and she must be stopped. Author James Dashner claims the influence of Dean Koontz, Tad Williams, and Orson Scott Card in his writing. His four-part Jimmy Fincher saga sold over 20,000 volumes. This new series is wonderful for kids of middle school age: the characters are smart, they try hard not to make stupid mistakes, they take risks for others, their parents are helpful without controlling. Not to mention, of course, the book is a page-turner, the dialogue is snappy, and it ends with a cliffhanger. Expect readers to ask for more. --ForeWord Magazine
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Dashner does an excellent job of depicting a typical, modern household, complete with annoying little sister, and integrating very strange and unusual characters and almost magical technology. The otherworldly heroes and villains are not your stereotypical good guys and bad guys either. Dashner reveals his incredible creativity in this book. He also breaks the mold in many ways. For example, instead of being an orphan or having horrible parents that he escapes, Tick has a wonderful, supportive mother and father, and one of the decisions he has to make is whether or not to tell his parents what’s going on.
Dashner also includes many puzzles and riddles that the readers can solve on their own. This really makes you feel like part of the story. It can also make you feel very smart if you end up solving the riddle before the hero.
I thought this was an excellent book, and I’m glad to see that it’s only the first in a series. I look forward to reading the others.
"The book, 'The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters' by James Dashner was an intriguing read.
"Atticus Higginbottom is very smart for his age. Sure, he is bullied constantly, is a classified 'nerd' and his best friend is his dad. But one day, he is going to be rich and famous. So when mysterious letters start showing up in his mail, from all over the world, can 'Tick' prove his genius and figure out the clues in time? Or is he not as smart as he thought he was? From tall ladies called Mothball, Kyoopy, an Alaskan mailman to an evil, yellow woman called Jane, this is one book you will never forget.
"My favorite part was when Tick and Sophia decide to race and find out who could solve one of the clues first. Sophia, without writing anything out, got the answer first. It was funny!
"My favorite character was Sophia because she was really bold, brave, funny and smart. I liked how she was brave and how she liked to be the one in charge. She reminded me of Tracy Beaker, one of Jacqueline Wilson's best-loved characters. I'm pretty sure that Tracy would have acted the same way in the same situations.
"I think that the book was very well written. I am by no means a science genius - but despite that, I thought that this book was interesting with all the talk of quantum physics and how things can be in two places at once.
"I would give the book five stars: one star for the cover, two stars for the characters and two stars for the plot. I can't wait for the next book!"
The Journal of Curious Letters is the first book in a series and the central character is a boy name Atticus "Tick" Higginbottom. Tick is a mostly normal 13 year old boy who is a bit too smart for his age and has trouble dealing with bullies. In essence, Tick is living the life of the average American teen. That is until he receives a strange letter in the mail that sets him on a path that will change all that he thought he know about the world around him. No, Tick is not some long lost heir to a faerie throne and there is no great and wondrous that that only he and he alone can do. Tick can chose at any time to change his course. To not read the letters. To not go to a dark cemetery late at night to be whisked off to who knows were. Yes, danger lurks just around the corner. Tick knows this and he decides to turn the corner anyway because sometimes the bigger picture takes more priority then the comfort of a single person.
The main theme of this book is one of choice and the power that each choice a person has to shape not just their life but also the lives of those around them. Overall I really enjoyed this book and know that if I was teen reading it I'd be hard at work trying to figure out all the clues as they arrived. But as I am old(ish) and wake up at 5 AM most mornings, I decided to just sit back and follow along as Tick solved the clues for me as I rode the train into the city. One plus about this book (or negative depending on how you look at it) is that it made laugh out loud at some sections. How can this be negative you ask? Well, try riding on a crowded train tucked in your own little world iPod in and suddenly laughing. Yeah, you get looks. Mostly odd looks, some slightly amused ones and some downright dirty ones (usually coming from the person sitting next to me who I may or may not have woken up from their morning/evening nap). The science geek in me also really liked all the science talk. With luck this story will show kids that science really is fun. =)
As with most first books in a series the story was a little slow to start. There was a whole lot of build up with the receipt of the letters and the figuring out of the clues (which took up the bulk of the book) that when Tick and the other kids who choose to stick it out finally all came together to learn the why of it all that last quarter section seemed just a little rushed. I almost would have liked to have seen more time spent in the 13th reality...but I suppose that will come with the next book(s?) in the series and I will just have to work on learning patience in the meantime.
There were also times in which the dialog between characters seemed a little repetitive and unreal to me....but then to be repetitive is a flaw of many people I know (myself included). The character of Mothball also bothered me a little, no so much her but more her way of speaking. There were too many "methinks", "it is's" and similar such phrases tossed at the end of almost every sentence she spoke. It got a little grating at times so thankfully she left most of the talking to those around her.
The final small issue I had with this book/series is that I think it might give me an irrational fear of the color yellow. But as yellow just washes me out and makes me paler then I already am, this might not be such a bad thing....
Top international reviews
The 13th reality ist nur in Englisch erhältlich und richtet sich eigentlich an ein jüngeres Publikum (es steht 8-12 drauf). ich finde es jedoch trotzdem genial. Es ist gut geschrieben und bietet erstklassige Unterhaltung. Lediglich die Brutalität wurde etwas zurückgeschraubt --> also nicht so brutal wie Scorch Trials oder Kill Order. Kämpfe gibt es trotzdem und das Thema ist interessant aufbereitet - aufgrund von Quantenphysik ist es den "Realitants" möglich in verschiedene Parallelwelten zu reisen. Die Charakter von Tick und seinen Freunden werden liebevoll beschrieben und man kann gut mitfühlen. Als Atticus (Tick) eines Tages merkwürdige Briefe von einem gewissen M.G. erhält ist er ratlos und muss die darauf gestellten Rätsel lösen um hinter das Geheimnis zu kommen. Dabei begibt er sich in große Gefahren...
Das Buch ist durchweg durchdacht und gut aufgebaut. Es enthält viele Charaktere und interessante Schauplätze. Ich würde es nicht nur für Dashner Fans, sonder auch für Interessierte Fantasy-Leser empfehlen!