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The Lost Boy Paperback – August 27, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Nate has recently moved to town. He's resistant to his new situation until he finds an old reel-to-reel tape recorder under the floorboards. Through a series of recordings, he learns about Walt, who once lived in the house. Soon Nate and his new friend, Tabitha, are in the middle of a sinister web that began with Walt's disappearance 50 years ago. The friends have no choice but to venture into The Kingdom, a dangerous world populated by talking animals, "buglings," worn-out toys, and the evil Vespertine. The first part of the story alternates between the present-day world and the recordings made by Walt in the 1960s. Nate and Tabitha's journey into The Kingdom comprises the second part. The fast-moving plot has several scary elements, and many of the characters have unsettling dark sides. The story culminates with a satisfying battle between good and evil, but also reveals that there are more evil forces to be dealt with and that this is the start of a series. Although the fantasy elements are intriguing, the dialogue often seems contrived and the attempts at sarcastic humor are uneven and forced. The detailed and realistic black-and-white illustrations use a variety of angles to create a visually exciting, cinematic atmosphere. Though the shifts in perspective can be sudden, confusing, and disruptive to the flow of the story, this creepy volume will still find an audience among tweens.—Amy Seto Musser, Denver Public Library --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
Nate has discovered a reel-to-reel tape recorder hidden in the floorboards of his new room in a new house in a new town. The tapes are narrated by a tween named Walt, a lonely boy with a dead mother, a deadbeat father, and a dangerous gift for seeing magical creatures. Walt disappeared from the town decades and decades ago, but what happened to him? And why has Nate started seeing some of the creatures described in Walt’s tapes? With the help of Tabitha, his neighbor, will Nate be able to solve and survive this mystery and keep his new town safe from the Shadows? As they get deeper into Walt’s tapes, they travel to a mysterious land full of odd creatures and take on a dangerous quest to protect the town. Ruth’s gorgeously illustrated black-and-white drawings tell a complex, creepy, and compelling story that melds fantasy and realistic fiction and forces readers to ask themselves—which one of these characters is truly the lost boy? Grades 3-7. --Candice Mack --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Nate has just arrived in town, moving in to the home from which a boy had mysteriously disappeared forty years earlier. He's not happy about the move, but this isn't a family drama or teen angst kind of book, and the early hints that that is where we're headed fade away early on. What does happen is that Nate finds the journal and some dictated audio tapes from Walt, the boy who disappeared. What Nate reads and hears is presented in the form of flashbacks featuring Walt, so the story basically runs as two parallel narratives, separated by forty years. The author nicely handles switches from one track to the other so that we follow the Walt backstory and Nate's current investigation of that backstory with reasonable ease.
Nate is assisted by Tabitha, who starts out as a pretty snarky character, but who then calms down and becomes a sharp, funny strong character in her own right. There is no mooning romance, but the two have good chemistry and feed each other's courage and energy.
Things get very strange very quickly. Basically, the old forest that borders town is sort of a glamour that hides "The Kingdom", an alternate universe that holds all manner of creatures - good, evil and indifferent. Walt could see The Kingdom and was obsessed with it. Nate and Tabitha can see The Kingdom's denizens and it seems that both Nate and Tabitha are important to the players who are competing for control within the Kingdom. From here we meet sentient bugs, a button boy, lots of birds, tree people, giant enforcers and any manner of other weird creatures. We also fall in with a human from town who knows more than he tells, and we get involved with a mysterious thingamajig.
The plot proceeds apace. The important point is that it is possible to follow the action - the drawings, the dialogue and the bits of exposition work together to keep the reader invested. The number and kinds of creatures, and the subplots, threaten to get out of hand, but it all holds together. The drawing is dark when it needs to be, clear when clarity is called for, and thrilling for some of the action scenes. The characters are expressive and a lot of the story is actually carried by the drawing.
This is new and fresh. It's not weighed down by a pre-existing superhero canon or storyline, and so the author is free to create something novel and interesting from scratch. It's packed with ideas, action and characters and its unpredictable. As for me, that's more than enough to recommend it as a solid hero quest adventure.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
Nate has been forced to move into a new house in a new town with his parents. He’s not happy. But then he finds an old tape recorder under the floorboards of his room. As he listens to the tape a mystery of a lost boy who discovered dark fey in our midst is unraveled. Nate, along with a local girl named Tabitha, starts to dig into the mystery in hopes of finding out what happened to this Lost Boy. However, with their dabbling Nate and Tabitha awaken dark forces in the woods near the town.
What starts out as a creepy mystery turns into an action packed adventure through a dark forest infested with wondrous creatures. When I started reading this book I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as the story unfolded I found myself really drawn into it.
Ruth has built an excellent world here and a fascinating mystery that is both intriguing and a bit creepy. The whole story is definitely more dark fantasy, than fluffy fantasy. I would say it’s appropriate for middle grade and older, I think it would be too scary and intense for younger kids.
Nate starts out as your typical kid who’s all whiny and mad about moving to a new town. However the difference between him and other kids it that he is willing to believe the strange things he hears about on the tape recorder.
At the beginning of this book the pages alternate between having a white and a black background. The white background panels are ones dealing with Nate, the black panels are showing what happened in the past...basically what Nate is listening to on the tape recorder. This was slightly confusing at first, but then once I understood what was going on I thought it was very clever.
Tabitha is also an interesting character. She has known about the magical things in the forest but has kept it a secret from everyone. She is cautious and relieved to find that Nate can see the magical creatures too. Tabitha is also a bit obsessed about solving the mystery behind The Lost Boy. She is a somewhat anti-social, but is smart and ends up being a good adventuring companion for Nate.
Along the way Nate and Tabitha are joined by many good magical creatures and they encounter many more evil ones as well. There are some startling truths revealed about the Lost Boy. There are also some absolutely awesome creatures and scenes throughout the book.
The illustration is all in black and white. I usually prefer full color illustration, but for this book I think using only black and white worked better. The illustrations are detailed and beautiful and add a ton to the story. I really, really enjoyed them.
The major story presented here is wrapped up well. However, there is some foreshadowing at the end which makes me think that there are more books planned to follow up The Lost Boy.
Overall a stunning story and stunning illustration. I loved the mystery, world-building, and fantastical creatures that we meet throughout the story. This is definitely a creepy story and dark fantasy, but it should still be fine for middle grade and older readers. I think the story will appeal to a large range of ages. This was an excellent blend of mystery, adventure, and magical creatures. I really look forward to reading more books by Ruth and hope there is another book in this series. Highly recommended to graphic novel fans who love creepy mysteries and dark fantasy.